ENJOY THE SHOW
"His way of doing it was not going to school, it was just going to the movies." Deutsche Grammophon has released the full video tribute made in memory of beloved Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, who passed away in early 2018. This lovely short documentary was made to be included in the upcoming release of a collection called "Retrospective I", a CD box set and hardcover book featuring Jóhannsson's early work. Producer Áine Devaney and filmmaker Blair Alexander head to Iceland to discover Jóhann's roots in Reykjavík, Iceland, interviewing his parents and friends / collaborators - including a record shop owner who talks about his unique sound. Jóhannsson is best known for his work composing scores for films including Prisoners, The 11th Hour, Sicario, Arrival, Mandy, and Mary Magdalene. Take a few minutes to watch this.
"Merrily we roll along, roll along! Catching at dreams…" Time for another fascinating video highlighting the books (and music) seen in a film. H. Nelson Tracey has unveiled another "Reading List" video for Greta Gerwig's Oscar-nominated film Lady Bird, pointing out various books and book passages and references throughout. He made one of these for Captain Fantastic a few years ago, and is back again with a new one for Lady Bird, and it's chock full of great (and not-so-great) books and music and magazines and more. It's a video essay, per se, though more of a pop culture / visual reference guide. I want more of these breakdown videos for pretty much every movie released every year, they're so mesmerizing and so well done. Enjoy this.
"So did you catch all the errors so far?" This fascinating, informative filmmaking video made by Vanity Fair introduces us to Martha Pinson, a renowned script supervisor who has worked on Martin Scorsese's films Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island, and Hugo. You've likely heard of this job before, or seen it in the credits, but what exactly does a "script supervisor" do? Pinson explains, and also shows us, by walking us through an example scene. Her job is mostly to maintain continuity, and she sits on set next to the director watching each scene keeping notes, closely tracking details so they connect. It's one of the best filmmaking videos I've seen, with graphics and clear examples of exactly what's wrong and how to fix it. A must watch.
"Is there hope for us?" "Yes, yes, yes…" Last week, London-born filmmaker Nicolas Roeg passed away at the age of 90. Roeg directed over a dozen feature films during his career as a filmmaker, and also worked as a camera operator and cinematographer (including on a few of his own films). This "In Memoriam" video, made by cinephile / filmmaker Colin McKeown, features footage from most of his films and some of those he shot working as DP, including Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451 in 1966 and Schlesinger's Far from the Madding Crowd in 1967. The tribute focuses mostly on Roeg's obsession with the color red and its prominence in his films. This is a really stunning tribute to Roeg and his work, made by a true film lover. And if you haven't seen many of Roeg's films, this is a great place to start to get you in the right mood to watch more of them.
"So much of what makes Ghibli, Ghibli comes down to the way their films wriggle into the space between cultures… they feel both familiar and strange." It's always a good time to revisit Studio Ghibli films. Film journalist/critic Robbie Collin has put together a short video essay discussing the aesthetic of Ghibli films - focusing on how they mix east and west style to create something completely unique (and wonderful). I'm always up for watching anyone praise Ghibli films and analyzing what makes them so magical, and Robbie looks back at their origins to figure out where it all came from. Worth a watch. This just makes me want to settle in and spend all weekend rewatching Ghibli films, and catching up on a few of the classics I haven't seen yet - like the cool 1968 animated film The Little Norse Prince Valiant referenced in here. Watch below.
Need to add some books to your summer reading list? Looking for some good reading recommendations you haven't already heard about? Start here. You'll find plenty of great inspiration. Fellow cinephile and friend of the site H Nelson Tracey, who also writes for the site Cinemacy, has created another new video essay breaking down and examining all of the books shown and objects and films referenced in a film. This time he profiles David Fincher's Zodiac, praised by many critics as Fincher's best film. This extensive featurette examines and features each & every book and magazine shown in Zodiac, you'll find plenty that catches your eye when you watch. Nelson also made one of these videos for Matt Ross' Captain Fantastic last year, and this one is another fascinating literary breakdown following his excellent work last year. Watch in full below.
"For millennia, we'd never seen anything like film cuts. How do we process them so easily?" When you watch a movie nowadays, unless you're trained in the art of editing or filmmaking, you probably don't even notice most of the cuts. If the movie's editing is top notch, the cuts are designed to work in a way where you don't really sense them, so that you can still easily follow the action and dialogue in a scene. This video essay from Adam D'Arpino attempts to explain, scientifically, how our brains have adapted to film cuts so quickly. The full title of the video is - Strange Continuity: Why Our Brains Don't Explode at Film Cuts. It's a fascinating visual examination for movie nerds and science nerds alike, getting into the technical aspects of filmmaking that help our eyes, as well as the anthropological details that make it all work harmoniously.
The latest film made by auteur filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, titled Mother!, is now playing in theaters eveywhere. Aronofsky is a remarkably unique filmmaker, who tells very emotional, visceral stories through intimate filmmaking. Back in 2008 and 2010, Aronofsky made two of his best films - The Wrestler and Black Swan. Both films received many awards, including Venice's Golden Lion for The Wrestler, and the Best Actress Oscar for Natalie Portman in Black Swan. Editor H. Nelson Tracy (who also made the Captain Fantastic book video) has put together a new video essay examining how these two films are very similar, essentially companion pieces, looking at aspects including structure, style and story. This is worth a watch.
One of my favorite films of 2016 was Matt Ross' Captain Fantastic, starring Viggo Mortensen. It's the kind of film I can put on any day and it makes me happy, I adore it, and I was so happy to see Viggo get an Oscar nomination for his performance. Not only is a great film, but it has so much to teach us about raising kids, keeping an open mind, learning more about the way we interact in this world, and fighting against a capitalistic society. Fellow cinephile H Nelson Tracey, who writes for the site Cinemacy, has created a video essay breaking down and examining all of the books shown and literature referenced in the film. There's quite a few books referenced in this film, and if you're looking for some extra summer reading, this is a very good place to start. As I'm a very big fan of this film, I couldn't help sharing this video. Check it out.
"One of the great artists of the film is the focus puller." Time for a lesson in filmmaking. As the introduction for this video explains, "moviegoers see focus racks all the time" but "they probably don’t even notice most of them." This video essay, created by Philip Brubaker for Fandor, titled simply The Art of the Focus Pull examines the cinematography technique of "focus pulling" - or changing the focus in the middle of a shot. There's different ways to achieve this, and the video covers a few of them, and shows plenty of examples. It also counts down three of the best focus pull shots in films, and each one of them is most certainly striking.
Time for some film education and film appreciation in the form of a video essay from "The Royal Ocean Film Society". The video essay is titled "In Praise of 16mm" and it is exactly that - filmmaker/cinephile Andrew Saladino examines the use of 16mm film (as opposed to the standard 35mm or larger 65mm) for making movies. For those wondering how often 16mm gets used, some filmmakers do still use it every so often. Here are some recent films that were shot on 16mm: Carol, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, The Squid and the Whale, The Hurt Locker, Moonrise Kingdom, Black Swan, Happy Christmas, Primer, Listen Up Philip, and others. Watch below to learn more about the aesthetic and what makes 16mm "so darn cool."
Even though the first color movies were made over 100 years ago, black & white lived on in Hollywood until the 1960s. The Academy Awards even had a category from 1939 to 1967 under Best Cinematography for black & white films, splitting the section in two. Even now, black & white is still a strong aesthetic / visual choice and some filmmakers use it effectively to tell stories. Some of my favorite recent black & white films are: Frances Ha, Ida, The Artist, Pi, Sin City, The Turin Horse, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, A Field in England, Escape from Tomorrow and Computer Chess. This new video essay from Jack Nugent looks back at film noir in the 40s & 50s to make the case for black and white, even today. It's worth a watch.