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Filmmakers are very crafty storytellers. The best ones know how to use the visual medium known as cinema to not only tell a story, but make us feel emotions of all kinds, and empathize with characters and people we have never met before. Filmmakers are also adept enough to link themes and patterns in the story through visual cues. In this video essay from Jacob T. Swinney titled First and Final Frames, he shows us how important the opening and closing shots are in every movie. At first you may think they have no connection, but it'll really hit you when you see the Gone Girl moment and it builds from there. This montage of over 50 films, showing the opening/closing shots side-by-side, also features the music "Any Other Name" by Thomas Newman from the American Beauty soundtrack. It's much more mesmerizing than I was expecting.
Last spring Filmmaker IQ took us through the history of movie trailers from all the way back in 1913, but this time it's Steven Benedict giving us a more in-depth look at the evolution of the integral piece of movie marketing. Benedict has put together a video essay called American Trailers, and as you may have guessed, it focuses on just the evolution of trailers in the United States. It's just under 20 minutes, and it examines the function of movie trailers, beyond more than what we already know, and also how they've been used throughout the history of cinema. So if you've got time, take a journey through movie trailer history.
While the world of comic book movies is pretty strong, the straight-up action genre has been struggling for years now. From mediocre sci-fi remakes like Total Recall and RoboCop to lackluster sequels like Taken, there are very few pure action movies worthy of praise like The Raid franchise and last year's John Wick. The stories are lame, the action is bland, the characters are hollow and it all just feels like the same old garbage. Now Chris Stuckmann has put together a video essay examining the problems with action movies today, and he even has some suggestions for how to fix these problems and take the genre back.
Director David Fincher has directed truly great feature films, mesmerizing music videos and even intriguing commercials. As his latest film Gone Girl heads into theaters with select evening shows tonight before hitting theaters everywhere tomorrow, why not take a deeper look at the filmmaking style and and craft of a gifted director like Fincher. The man behind films like Se7en and The Social Network describes his process as "not what I do, but what I don’t do," and Every Frame a Painting has decided to dive into what makes Fincher's films tick with a fascinating and fantastic seven-minute video essay. Watch now!
Many cinephiles know that the PG-13 rating that is so popular today is a relatively new addition to the rating system of the Motion Picture Association of America. Basically, because some movies with more questionable content like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Poltergeist and Gremlins threw parents into an uproar because the content didn't seem to fit the PG-rating moniker, Steven Spielberg and the MPAA came up with the PG-13 rating as a middle ground between the more kid-friendly PG films, and the adult-oriented R-rated flicks. However, GoodBadFlicks thinks the PG-13 rating is causing problems.
In the short history of filmmaking, there have been incredible advances in technology that have changed the face of filmmaking from the innovation of sound to computer generated visual effects. However, there are subtle changes that help make visual storytelling a little easier too, making it so the audience doesn't feel detached from the story and world they're seeing unfold on the big screen. One such arena you may not realize is how characters communicate on the big screen in a contemporary society where individuals talk more often by way of text messages instead of talking on the phone. Filmmakers are only recently figuring out how to do this effectively, occasionally with some style, and a neat video essay explains how. Watch it!
"It showed a world drained of vitality and meaning." 1979 - the year of Ridley Scott's Alien, the original Star Trek: The Motion Picture, as well as the original The Muppet Movie, Escape from Alcatraz and of course James Bond's Moonraker. But aside from Alien, it was actually a great year for "scary" movies galore, from George Romero's Dawn of the Dead to the original The Amityville Horror with James Brolin, as well as David Cronenberg's creeper The Brood, John Frankenheimer's eco-horror Prophecy about a giant killer bear, Don Coscarelli's cult horror Phantasm, even Werner Herzog's Nosferatu the Vampyre was released in 1979. Nelson Carvajal presents a new video essay about all the dark horror that summer. Enjoy.
The low key release of Snowpiercer is finding a pretty decent size audience after getting a release in limited theaters two weeks later, followed by a wide release and availability on nearly all VOD platforms last weekend. It's turned out to be a pretty big hit with Thompson on Hollywood learning from Harvey Weinstein, who battled with Bong Joon-ho over the final cut, that the film has pulled in $2 million in just one week from VOD releases. That's the kind of stuff that keeps changing the face of distribution. Now to explore the film and see what everyone is talking about, here's a video essay analyzing the film very well.
"There are cameras everywhere." One of the best video essays on Hollywood in, well, a long time. In just a few weeks, we'll be experiencing the latest in the Transformers franchise, Michael Bay's fourth movie about giant alien robots Transformers: Age of Extinction. As is always the case with movies on this scale, fans follow the production all over the world, capturing videos and photos of the filming in Chicago, Detroit, Texas, Hong Kong, China, all over the place. But, as always, Hollywood is sensitive about certain content. Using a simple computer-screen narrative, this essay examines the struggle between fans and productions and the (financial) politics of filmmaking. It's a fascinating must watch, even if you don't like Michael Bay.
Considering the fact that director Martin Scorsese's next film is Silence, an adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s novel of the same name, it seems only appropriate that a new video essay focuses on his effective use of silence in his filmography. Tony Zhou (who also delivered the visual essay on Steven Spielberg's long takes) is back with a focus on the quiet side of Scorsese's filmmaking. This trait begins in Raging Bull, where Scorsese wanted to give the effect of being hit in the ear too many times, just like Jake LaMotta. And his use of silence has spanned through to recent films like The Departed and The Wolf of Wall Street.
Previously, we brought your attention to a visual essay looking at the themes of social anthropology in the various films of auteur director Darren Aronofsky. Running through Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler, Black Swan and the recent Noah were all profiled in the essay, explaining that Aronofsky's films contain "a visual mapping that demonstrates the anthropological study of cultural continuity." Now this time another visual essay puts the spotlight on Aronofsky's predilection for using spirals and symmetry in his films to create some of the most gorgeous shots you've ever seen on the big screen. However, be careful where you watch, because there's definitely some NSFW nudity. Watch below!
Since The Grand Budapest Hotel hit theaters, we've featured a couple extensive video essays looking at the mise en scène and visual themes of director Wes Anderson, and also his meticulously crafted affinity for visual symmetry. Now we have another look at the word of the quirky, trademark director by way of The Wes Anderson Mixtape. The video acts almost as a greatest hits compilation of Anderson's work while also showing some of his signautre techniques behind the camera that are easily recognizable as his work. From Bottle Rocket to Moonrise Kingdom, this is a great compilation of Anderson's visual palette. Watch!