ENJOY THE MOVIES
"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.
"Since I was a child, I've always loved a good story… I believe that stories helped us to ennoble ourselves to fix what was broken in us, and to help us become the people we've dreamed of being." Introducing… 2021 Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins! One of the best actors of all-time. Hopkins just won the Oscar for Best Actor this past weekend for The Father, a heart-wrenching film about how hard it is to live with dementia. This is actually his second Oscar win - he also won Best Actor for The Silence of the Lambs (of course!) back in 1992. and he has been nominated a total of six times (so far). Video editor Luís Azevedo put together this lovely tribute to the many films with Anthony Hopkins, featuring a fine selection of great clips across his 50 year career as a screen actor. He's a worthy winner of any Oscar for so many of his roles.
"The days are long and the years are short." Cinema is beautiful art form because filmmakers can alter and manipulate time in many ways - good and bad. The Nerd Writer has made a video called Time, Tarkovsky and The Pandemic and he continues exploring is thoughts about how the pandemic has warped our sense (and understanding) of time. He connects this to the work of Soviet filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky who is a master of using time in unique ways. I quite like the quote he includes from Tarkovsky: "What is a frame, the interval between 'Action' and 'Cut'? Film fixes reality in a sense of time—it's a way of conserving time. No other art form can fix and stop time like this. Film is a mosaic made up of time." Watch the video below.
"One simple little idea… that changed everything." Even after 11 movies, Christopher Nolan still leads the way as an innovative, exciting filmmaker delivering heart-pounding big screen entertainment. Some have become upset over his comments releasing Tenet, but many others still love him and always appreciate the thrilling movies he makes. Filmmaker Dylan Hoang has put together a brand new tribute titled "The Films of Christopher Nolan", also called "Christopher Nolan's Labyrinth" – an homage to his 20 years so far. The video covers everything from Memento through Tenet (with IMAX footage). It was created in honor of the 30th anniversary of Memento, but it might as well be in honor of his 11th movie Tenet finally getting released on Blu-ray and showing in cinemas again now that they've started to safely re-open. It's best to take Dylan's advice: "Feel it. Best seen on the biggest screen possible with headphones!" Enjoy the tribute below.
"Memorable logos often come from outside the box thinking." In case you haven't heard, after almost 100 years MGM has updated their classic lion roaring logo to a brand new all-CGI lion. Yes, it's the same logo, but without any real animals. (And yes he makes fun of it in here.) Everyone knows the MGM logo, just as everyone knows the Warner Bros logo or the Disney logo. Video editor Luís Azevedo has put together a fun video essay titled: What Makes a Great Film Company Logo? He examines many of the classics, and some new favorites, along with some of the most creative production company logos - like Jordan Peele's Monkey Paw and Ferrell & McKay's Gary Sanchez Productions. I'm glad he also covers the history of movie logos, as many of the Hollywood studios have so many fun designs over the years. All movie fans will enjoy.
This… Is… Zack… SNYDER!! In honor of the release of "The Snyder Cut" today, also known as Zack Snyder's Justice League, friend of the site Dino Kos (@WolvieCBM) has put together a new video montage to enjoy. It's titled CUT TO: The Films of Zack Snyder and is a mashup of footage from all 8 of his movies. Zack landed in Hollywood in 2004 with Dawn of the Dead, and has spent the last 17 years bringing blockbusters to the big screen - from 300 to Man of Steel to BvS to Sucker Punch. And don't forget he's got Army of the Dead arriving on Netflix this summer. Love him or hate him, Zack Snyder makes big, flashy, action-packed movies that are made to be experienced on the biggest screen possible. And he's a movie lover who makes movies to entertain above all else. This is a fun montage that makes me nostalgic for his early days.
"The loner as a character acts our gateway into a complicated, unfeeling world." If you haven't seen it yet, Ross Glass' gem Saint Maud is one of the best horror debuts in years and pretty much every last critic has been raving about it. It's finally available to watch via Epix for streaming in the US. Studiocanal in the UK has posted a video essay on their YouTube featuring words and narration by film critic Anna Bogutskaya, talking about the theme of loneliness. Specifically how Saint Maud fits within loneliness cinema, and also how it connects with other lonely films, including You Were Never Really Here + A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. It's a compelling rumination on loneliness and it's nice to hear her discussion with all the footage.
"It felt real, it felt so believable, and yet so imaginative and creative." Disney has debuted a set of behind-the-scenes featurettes celebrating 40 years since Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back opened. The highly anticipated sci-fi sequel first hit theaters on June 20th, 1980, three years after the original Star Wars movie rocked cinemas in 1977. A few different videos have been released, along with an oral history of the Hoth Battle, and so much more. The featurettes including commentary and conversations with all kinds of people involved in and in love with Star Wars: Taika Waititi, Pedro Pascal, Deborah Chow, Leslye Headland, George Lucas, Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, and Lawrence Kasdan. Growing up, I always remember Empire being my favorite of the original trilogy - just because it has everything, including the big emotional middle with Yoda training Luke. There's still so much to love about it even 40 years later.