An action scene, just like any other scene, should help expose a character’s true self. But in the case of “Casino Royale,” the opening action sequence needed to do even more than that. It needed to introduce the world to a whole new James Bond.
So today, I want to dissect the film’s freerunning chase sequence to see how it uses action to develop the characters, to examine how it forces the protagonist to make choices which reveal his key characteristics, and to demonstrate how its underlying structure brings Bond’s deepest flaw to the surface.
Chris O’Falt interviews Bong Joon Ho and production designer Lee Ha Jun about Parasite’s brilliant set design:
According to Bong, the challenge he gave his “Snowpiercer” production designer was not only to create a believably “visually beautiful” set, but a stage that served the precise needs of his camera, compositions, and characters, while embodying his film’s rich themes. In an interview with IndieWire, Bong described the home as “its own universe inside this film.” He added that he took pleasure in hearing that the famous directors on this year’s Cannes jury — which included Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, Yorgos Lanthimos, and Kelly Reichardt — were all convinced that the movie took place in a real home. In truth, Bong asked his production designer to create an “open set,” built on an outdoor lot.
Toy Story 4 looks incredible, almost hyper-realistic. And it’s not a simple matter of technology getting better; there is artistic intent in the imperfections that give it that edge. Among other techniques, Pixar is simulating real-world camera lenses (along with their limitations). Evan Puschak explains:
Animation has always drawn from the lessons of live action film, from the visual language of cinematic storytelling. Everyone who worked on Toy Story 4 understands that the imperfections — the way a lens distorts, or a camera operator shakes, or a light bounces — contain their own expressive potential. And when you combine these with the limitless world of animation, the results can be stunningly tactile.
I hadn’t noticed that split diopter shot — it’s brilliant.
Cancel Hollywood. Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite is one of the best films I’ve ever seen.
What’s remarkable about vertical drama is that it’s not just any scripted content cropped for a vertical aspect ratio. These shows are specifically imagined for the mobile screen from the ground up. This is evident in three features they all share.
I am fascinated by vertical video — it feels like a completely different medium. To me, horizontal video always represents a very deliberate choice to “make a video.” Vertical video is much more spontaneous, like a long photo that lives on your phone.
Seeing the vertical format used for more serious scripted stuff is still uncanny, but I suspect there’s a lot to explore there.
Thanks Todd Vaziri for tweeting about this great Roger Ebert quote that I had forgotten about:
Movies are the most powerful empathy machine in all the arts. When I go to a great movie I can live somebody else’s life for a while. I can walk in somebody else’s shoes. I can see what it feels like to be a member of a different gender, a different race, a different economic class, to live in a different time, to have a different belief.
Danny Dimian, Visual Effects Supervisor, and Josh Beveridge, Head of Character Animation, for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” share exclusive breakdowns and talk about their inspiration and the techniques they used to create a new visual language for their Academy Award-winning film.
Avi Asher-Schapiro makes some good points about The Inventor that I failed to consider:
Missing from the film, however, is any sustained effort to understand how Theranos interacted with the larger economic and social forces that nurtured it. In the hands of Gibney, the rise and fall of Theranos is reduced to a sort of personality puzzle, driven by the banal questions like: What was Elizabeth Holmes thinking? Is she a liar? How could seemingly competent investors be so misled?
That’s a shame, because the story of Theranos is so much more than that. At its root, it’s a parable that cuts to the central dysfunctions in the American economic and political order, one that should dismantle our notions of meritocracy and put a strict limit on our forbearance for elites. It illuminates how the rich and well connected occupy different strata of life, enjoy a completely different set of opportunities from the rest of us, experience a different kind of justice, and are so often immune from consequences. Though the film gives some glimpses of these dynamics, they are always in the background, shadowed by other far less compelling narrative impulses.
Kristen Yoonsoo Kim investigates why Korean films keep getting snubbed at the Oscars:
At the time, the submission of Age of Shadows made no sense to me. But in early 2017, a government blacklist created by Korea’s former, impeached president Park Geun-hye was uncovered. Thousands of Korean artists and cultural figures were banned from receiving government support, and one of the most prominent figures on that blacklist was The Handmaiden director Park Chan-wook, thought to be too leftist and thus a threat to the government’s agenda.
The Handmaiden, Okja, and Burning are among my favorite films of the last few years. It’s a shame they’re not getting wider recognition.
David Ehrlich writes about the upcoming Apollo 11 documentary, made using recently discovered 65mm footage:
It’s rare that picture quality can inspire a physical reaction, but the opening moments of “Apollo 11,” in which a NASA camera crew roams around the base of the rocket and spies on some of the people who’ve come to gawk at it from a beach across the water, are vivid enough to melt away the screen that stands between them. The clarity takes your breath away, and it does so in the blink of an eye; your body will react to it before your brain has time to process why, after a lifetime of casual interest, you’re suddenly overcome by the sheer enormity of what it meant to leave the Earth and land somewhere else.