ENJOY THE MOVIES
"Films don't need to have grandiose visual production to have pertinent and strong imagery." While film is a visual medium, there's more to cinema than just pointing a camera at actors. Here's another excellent video essay to enjoy - brought to us by UK-based distributor Studiocanal. The Art of Visual Storytelling is a video essay created by "The Cinema Cartography", a collective creating videos about film and exploring various themes (we also posted their The Greatest Films You Don't Know a few months ago). This one looks at how films use visual storytelling and the different kinds of visual techniques that filmmakers are fond of utilizing. They discuss classics like Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth, Akira Kurosawa's Ran, David Lynch's The Elephant Man, Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, plus Michael Powell's films and Jean Cocteau's films. As always, this just make me want to watch more films - especially all of these classics.
How does Fincher make his movies look so good? Find out more in this video! StudioBinder has posted an entrancing video essay about David Fincher and the way he utilizes colors in his movies. It's titled simply Fincher's Colors and they break down his color choices into three main chapters: desaturation (removing bold colors), characters (attaching color to a character), and settings (lighting each set / location using one particular color). "One could point to any number of impressive techniques used in David Fincher movies, but perhaps one of the most important is his movie color palette. As he himself once said, 'In film, we sculpt time, we sculpt behavior and we sculpt light.'" I appreciate how well put together this video is, not only with clean clips in high definition, but the explanations & references are insightful. I also always enjoy hearing filmmakers & craftspeople themselves talking about their work. I could watch video essays like this all day.
"And this is how evil persists - when good people do nothing." Indeed, an important reminder for all of us. Let's kick off 2022 with something a bit different - a fascinating video essay analyzing a film that changed South Korea forever. It's always a good reminder that international cinema is just as important as ever, and great films can actually make a difference in the real world. This essay discusses a 2011 film titled Silenced, directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk and originally released in 2011 in South Korea. Based on real events, this film depicts the story of a school for the hearing-impaired where young deaf students were sexually assaulted by the faculty members over a long period of time. The video is by "Accented Cinema", a Canadian YouTube video essay series with a focus on foreign cinema. I highly recommend watching this just to hear a different perspective on cinema and learn so much more about a film you probably haven't seen yet. View this below.
"There is no call we do not answer, there is no faith that we betray." Let us never betray cinema!! Another year, another look back at all the year's movies. Editor Dylan Hoang has revealed his Cinema 2021 video retrospective, that also includes a countdown of his Best Films of the Year at the end. These recaps are always worth watching - not only is the editing impressive, but there's something riveting about rewatching clips from all of the movies from 2021. What a year! We had everything from Titane to The Green Knight to Nightmare Alley to Dune to The Power of the Dog to The Ice Road to Free Guy to Barb and Star. There's probably plenty of movies we've all forgotten, but when they pop up here it's nice to think "ohh, I enjoyed that!" And with the year almost over it's also the right time to catch up with any you might've missed. Enjoy.
"The universe is on his side, bro." A24 has revealed a fun video essay looking back at "Simon Rex: Thru The Eras" - an unconventional promotion for the movie Red Rocket (now playing in select theaters in the US). Simon Rex is an actor that you should recognize. Rising to fame as an MTV VJ, Rex later became an actor known for What I Like About You, starring in three films of the Scary Movie franchise, and National Lampoon's Pledge This!. He later developed a rap persona, Dirt Nasty, and had several solo albums and co-founded the hip-hop group Three Loco. This video retrospective looks back at his career and his fame, "a closer look at the legendary chameleon that is Simon Rex - from MTV and Dirt Nasty to his LAFCA-winning role as Red Rocket's leading man, Mikey Saber." Featuring some of his biggest fans, including Mark Ronson, Regina Hall, Pauly Shore, & Sean Baker. A clever way to promote Red Rocket, which really is worth a watch.
"We're so bounded by time, by its order. But now I am not so sure I believe in beginnings and endings." There's a lovely new video on YouTube to watch titled "The Beauty of Denis Villeneuve." It's made by a French movie lover who runs a YT channel called "The Beauty Of" making short videos about the beautiful cinematography found in various films & TV & games. This one is all about Villeneuve and his movies, from Incendies to Dune and everything else (he has made 10 features in total so far). All set to the music "On the Nature of Daylight" also heard in Arrival. Villeneuve has worked with these great cinematographers: Greig Fraser, Roger Deakins, Bradford Young, André Turpin, Nicolas Bolduc, and Pierre Gill. There's many other memorable shots not seen in this video, but this just makes me want to rewatch every last one of his movies.
"These are not just worthwhile films to see. These are the instances of forgotten films which truly belong within the highest echelon that the art has to offer. This is a celebration of cinema." There is always more to watch! Always. But have you seen these films? Probably not. While every movie website prides itself on finding & highlighting the best films you haven't seen, there's always more. Lost in the mix, forgotten by most, but not by everyone. The Greatest Films You Don't Know is a video essay made by "The Cinema Cartography". They highlight nine great films, and includes a brief intro and discussion about each one (and why they're so special). Out of all of these, I've only ever heard of one before: The Cremator, directed by Czech filmmaker Juraj Herz. I actually was lucky to see this one at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival a few years back during a retrospective. The rest are all new to me! Dive in and learn about cinema history below.
"Now this seems absurd, right? … Why would you spend $80,000 of your budget just for this one image?" What do you think is "the most difficult shot in movie history?" It's probably not the one you're thinking of, not any of Stanley Kubrick's shots, not any of the Lumière Brothers' shots. Nah, it's a shot from one of Brian De Palma's films. And it was a flop. The film is The Bonfire of the Vanities, a 1990 adult drama about a Wall Street hotshot played by Tom Hanks, whose life begins to unravel after his mistress runs over a teen. Now, why is there an interesting $80,000 shot in this? Editor / filmmaker Patrick H. Willems got caught up learning about the making of this epic flop and the story of the iconic Concorde jet landing at JFK shot that cost so much. He put together a 20 minute video essay not only examining the shot itself, but why it matters, why it's so important for cinema. All-in-all a fascinating examination of only 10 seconds of a movie.
"The natural landscape is a common setting and often a frightening place - one that functions by its own logic and is hostile to outsiders." Dive into this brief history of the Australian New Wave era of cinema thanks to a new video essay on YouTube. This was commissioned by Little White Lies and written / edited by filmmaker Will Webb (who has been making many video essays in addition to this one). Here's the intro: "How a government funding scheme gave rise to a cinematic revolution in 1970s Australia, featuring now iconic films such as Wake in Fright, Walkabout and Mad Max." It all kicked off in the early 1970s and lasted through the 80s, with other Australian classics like The Man From Hong Kong, Gallipoli, Mad Dog Morgan, Razorback, and Crocodile Dundee. Webb's essay covers the first few films and various themes of the era, including how the films represented Australia and helped move the country forward. Worth a watch.
Time for a lesson in movie title design! One of the latest must-watch cinema video essay creations from the outstanding Portuguese filmmaker / editor Luís Azevedo is a two-part examination into the The Art of Movie Title Design. These focus specifically on two famed designers: the iconic Saul Bass, an American designer who created titles for filmmakers including Alfred Hitchcock, Otto Preminger, Billy Wilder, Stanley Kubrick, and Martin Scorsese. And also Pablo Ferro, a young Cuban designer / editor who worked on many Stanley Kubrick movies as well. You definitely know the titles these two designed, but Luís also delves into their influences and techniques. This kind of breakdown of cinema history is remarkably fascinating, not only to learn how these films from the past were created, but to see how it has all evolved. Watch below.
"I think as she was dying part of her mind became part of the creature that was killing her." Monsters in movies have been scaring us for decades, since the early days of cinema. But which one is the scariest of all of them? Jonathan Hiller, known as "throughline", has made a video essay asking exactly that: What is the scariest movie monster Hollywood has ever created? His focus is on the iconic mutant bear creature from Alex Garland's Annihilation (2018), which many film critics have noted as one of the most haunting monsters in recent cinema. But this essay also digs a bit deeper, exploring the philosophy of horror and the emotions we feel watching movie monsters. It ends too quickly but is still worth a watch – only 10 minutes.
"Zhao isn't interested in making issue films, she's interested in hopes and dreams." Well said. Just a week ago, filmmaker Chloé Zhao became only the second woman in Academy Award history to win the Oscar for Best Director. She also won another Oscar that night for Best Picture, and Frances McDormand won for Best Actress, in Nomadland. Nomadland is only her third feature film, following Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2015) and The Rider (2017), but she's already being studied in-depth by cinephiles. UK-based filmmaker Margarita Milne has put together a fabulous video essay titled The Cinema of Chloé Zhao, focusing on various aspects of her films that make them unique. The essay was edited by Lesley Posso, and produced by Birds Eye View. Zhao: "I often feel like an outsider wherever I go, so I'm always attracted to stories about identity and the meaning of home." We recommend watching this to learn more about Zhao's sensibilities.