Author’s signatures at the cinema

There are different attributes when identifying the film of an author. 

harrison ford blade runner

It may be because of the way they edit, it may be because of the composition in their photography (Kubrick, Scott, Lean, Kurosawa, etc.) the movements in their shootings (Kubrick, Hosoda, Kurosawa, Lean, Godard, Greenaway, Anderson), or as the recurrent use of silences (Scorcese), and even lighting (Lean) and many more.

I believe that the personal stamp of each filmmaker is due to his appreciation of the world through the camera, and as you can see in his films, many use more than a single resource that becomes recurrent throughout his filmic history.

 

The Shinning – Stanley Kubrick 1980

And it is the recurrent use of this filmic look that they carry in their eyes which gives them a unique way of interpreting reality and which allows viewers to share a little of their view of reality, or at least how they prefer they see it

And it is that reality becomes perfect to the extent that it is seen through the eyes of the cinema, and these directors who insist on never leaving their vision of reality seek the best visual or auditory composition to narrate that portion of reality that the screen allows them to present.

Sometimes achieving masterpieces full of composition, color, symmetry, music and of course a good story. I want to see cinema, for this type of authors is that I see cinema, because I like to see in their works that little bit of them that they always leave behind in each film.

 

Lawrence of Arabia – David Lean 1962

That’s right, each director leaves a part of his being in each film, sometimes reflecting a moment that happens in his life, other stages of inspiration that motivate him to follow, or simply his own artistic interests. And that is why we find directors who leave their mark, and I think that each director leaves something of himself in each work.

It does not matter if it is a short film, a medium or a full-length film, the auteur cinema is seen when you find these constants in your work, in the way of showing you that fraction of reality that are the movies, embellished of course with the cinematographic language.

 

Blade Runner – Ridley Scott 1982

It does not matter if it’s comedy or a melodrama, even terror, when you show these constants you know that you’re in an author’s cinema. That is what separates a director from a Grand Director.

Almost always combine many elements, such as composition and movement, I remember the films of Akira Kurosawa that in all his films manages a mixture of composition in front of the camera seasoned with movement from the bottom, combining the elements. If you watch your films is very recurrent the use of some element, water, wind, fire, etc. And it combines it with the movement of people, to give emphasis to action or argument. That’s the seal of an author.

 

Ran – Akira Kurosawa 1985

The next time you see several films by the same author you can try to find those tracks on the screen that signify signs of his signature, readable only by those watching moviegoers.

Scorsese’s Fast Dolly Zoom

It is a way of making us feel more involved in the film, in the situation and in what the character is feeling at that moment. 

classic dvd goodfellas

We have already talked about the stamp that each author gives to his film, and when that peculiarity in the way of filming, whether with camera movements, silences, framing, music, etc. We can talk about an auteur cinema.

In the case of Martin Scorsese, in addition to the silences he uses, his films have a seal on camera movements. And one in particular is the type of zoom in that he uses in all his films, where he runs the camera while focusing on the face of the character or object of interest in zoom in quickly, in order to give an emphasis greater at the moment in the film.

This type of movement of camera and frame is very fast in his films, even difficult to notice at the moment, if he wants to separate, but without doubt, in the whole of the visual narrative, fulfills its mission.

It is possible that it can be confused with the famous “Zolly” of Hicthcock or Vertigo as it is also known in honor of the film where he used it for the first time. But in fact Scorsese if he uses it in some of his films as in Goodfellas or in Raging Bull .

But Scorsese’s Fast Dolly Zoom In has its own characteristic and certainly is unmistakable. He takes it a step further by adding speed, in a broad tour of the scene, an imperceptible panning and focusing the camera directly on the target.

I leave this video essay by Jorge Luengo Ruiz who edited it in a way that allows us to see exactly how this movement works and framing that is so characteristic of Scorsese’s cinema.

The Witch

The witch is Robert Eggers’ debut feature.

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It is a story developed in the sixteenth century where a Christian family is exiled from a community of pilgrims, for their exacerbated Christianity, reaching a place near the forest where they make their home. However, the forest seems to harbor something sinister, a witch and the devil will come for them.

The photograph is of grayish tones, discolored, which generates an atmosphere of mystery and uncertainty, the planes of the forest and of the landscapes emphasize the solitude and defenselessness of the family. The montage handles many shorts to blacks, slow rhythm but that together with the silences contribute to keep the viewer interested.

The music keeps you in suspense with a series of stridencies that are repeated many times which leave you with the feeling that something bad is coming. The silences are very well handled and the ambient sound is also excellent.

The performances are very good, especially Kate dickie in the role of the Puritan mother and Harvey Scrimshaw in the role of the younger brother. The accent of the old English or “native” is very well interpreted by Ralph Ineson in his long dialogues and his prayers.

The film makes references about the beliefs of the first Englishmen arrived in New England, about all these superstitions. The director does not handle conventional horror clichés, but resorts to a kind of psychological terror appealing to reasoning.

It is a dark construction that is made through all these elements very successful for the type of film that pretends to be, resolves very quickly the end leaving a feeling of emptiness for what has just been seen. the climax of the film arrives, it happens very fast and late at the same time. leaving the viewer wanting more.

The film is not for the whole public, it is a filmic work that must be looked at with eyes different from those accustomed by conventional terror. It could have been a masterpiece of terror and it stayed in a good opera prima.

Rabbits: The terror of dark secrets

David Lynch launches in 2002 a film.

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A film of almost 50 minutes divided into acts as in the theater and in fact the long shot that makes up the film, is like a filmed theater, something that in cinema, is not very eloquent.

It is presented to three humanized rabbits which exchange concise and prefabricated phrases, as in a show without sense and without connection at first sight, in a room poorly decorated in a clearly premeditated way. They perform their performances in the manner of a staging.

Music plays an important role because it creates an atmosphere too dark along with a rustic lighting that projects contrasts with the shadows of the characters. It is like seeing a medieval pictorial work but full of modern everyday life. With that texture, full of silences, of incidental sounds like applause and canned laughter just like in television shows.

All the time there are strange noises, and malevolent stridencies that generate tension and expectation as the preamble of something diabolical and improbable, which is based on a dark secret that rabbits know and that torments them.

It portrays a surrealist image of the consciousness of these three characters that is mixed with fear and guilt. They know, they are accomplices, among them they get the idea that everything is normal, but deep down, the secret can more taking away their peace of mind.

There is something diabolical that manifests itself in the room changing the illumination and reveals a being that could well be the representation of madness or the devil himself who knows about their sins and torments them with illegible voices.

You never know the real relationship between the rabbits, the staging presupposes that it is a family, the father who comes to work, the daughter who meditates on the armchair and the mother who makes the irons … as if appealing to the normal, the everyday behind from which lies something unspeakable, a horror, a crime.

Nobody knows, it is only at the end when the act is presented, the crime they have witnessed, or perhaps it is the memory that pursues them, the consciousness that finally finds them and faces them, through the door and he shows them that dark secret, which, in the end, they insist on saving.

Or maybe it was the result of the premonition that the three had about something that would happen and eaten them inside, but they did not know what it was, until they become witnesses and join in a final grief, hugging to mitigate the fear …

Undoubtedly it is an interesting proposal full of meanings, which is not served on a silver platter, it is wrapped in visual, sound and above all semiotic nuances, that each viewer has to internalize in order to decipher it or, in the end, let it go.

The Room

A film directed by Lenny Abrahamson inspired by the novel by Emma Donoghue.

La-Habitacion-poster

This movie tells the story of a woman who was kidnapped from the age of 17 and who has been locked in a room for 5 years. She has been fed and raped all this time by a psychopath who has had a child. (It is not explained well when, how or where she was born but it is supposed to be right there) and the film shows how she and her son live in a small room of 3.5 mx 3.5 m every day, until she decides to lean on the little one to leave his confinement.

Your photography is good as they manage to show us specific angles that make it look like the room is bigger than it really is. The planes in close up and medium shot abound, with few camera movements but if angulations, there are many chopped and contrapicado, use interestingly shots almost at ground level.

It is interesting how the director shows the way in which the love of a mother goes beyond everything, and the contradictions in which the human being can fall when living a traumatizing situation and how his mother convinces Jack that everything that exists is that fourth and she sees the way to educate and entertain him. It is an interesting proposal about the human being in captivity and its behavior. The director does not leave out the dilemma in the story that Jack is a child of rape and emphasizes the attitude of Jack’s grandfather (William Macy)

The montage of the film is accurate, the narrative of the story takes us to the sentimental and the tension at all times, but the climax of the story seems to be that it arrives too early and solves things in a way that decays the interest somewhat in the story in the final part.

The performances by Brie Larson (Ma) and especially Jacob Tremblay (Jack) meet very well with the demands of their roles, well taken by the director. Although it does not go deep into the mental aspects of captivity and is solved very quickly for my taste, the film is an excellent story of mother-child love and the struggle for freedom, well taken to the language of cinema.

I saw The Devil

I saw the devil has the classic elements of cinema slasher, a psychopath obsessed with women who enjoys raping and butchering his victims (Choi Min-sik).

I-Saw-The-Devil

There are movies about murderers, there are many, the subgenre as we already know is the slasher, but a few days ago I saw a special one that made me the night. For a change, as always with those films that are palated, I saw it alone and I think I enjoyed it much more, not because of the lack of good company, but because of avoiding any kind of distraction … You know that.

In short, the film is called Akmareul boatda (I saw the devil) of South Korean director Kim Ji-Woon (Bittersweet life 2005) (A tale of two sisters 2006) which has already become a reference for those who like cinema Asian, director in constant evolution, which is clear to see his filmography, as well as the constant concern for aesthetics in his films, all this give him a special place in the seventh art.

The general plot does not fall into something different from the cliché that these films have generated.

We see a movie where the murderer becomes the prey of the boyfriend of one of his victims (Lee Byung-hun) who has vowed to take revenge and make him pay. It’s not something new either, but in the end Kim Soo-Hyeon ends up becoming a monster too.

The performances are good but especially that of Choi Min-sik, and as often happens in this type of film, the film is taken, since its contribution to fear and anxiety are essential for the plot to work.

The atmosphere that the director achieves thanks to the photography of Lee Mo-gae along with the music of Mowg, Keon Woo exceeds the expectations for those of us who like this type of cinema. In addition it makes it more digestible … The frames are very aesthetic and well achieved, the staging has much merit and the camera movements are correct and necessary for a film of this nature.

The narrative is good but sometimes gives the impression of being used only to move from one brutal scene to another. But the coating of this brutality in the scenes is wrapped in gift paper precisely because of the creative cinematography that is handled.

If the killer starring Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men (2008), this refined piscopath of the Coen brothers: Anton Chigurh, would have had a teacher, it would undoubtedly be Kyung-Chul (Choi Min Sik). I know that the Bardem fans will throw themselves on me and I do not care hahaha.

Anyway I think it is a very good movie for lovers of this genre, it has all the elements, because not only is it visceral but aesthetic, taken care of, that makes it a great movie at the beginning. But above all it is great for those of us who like to give their deserved to those bastards.

Donnie Darko and the journey in time

There are films whose proposal and history are so interesting and captivating that they have become of cult.

time-travel-book

One of them is Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly, 2001), a psychological thriller that tells us the intriguing story of a teenager who has schizophrenia problems but who he is involved in an episode of space-time alteration linked to a catastrophic event of which Frank, an imaginary friend dressed as a rabbit, has come to warn him.

This film is made so that one discovers the events and literally puts the gray matter to work to understand what at first looks like an episode of schizophrenia with an event that exceeds the field of mind to establish itself as a timeless connection, which as a premonition, it is recreated inside the head of the protagonist.

The most interesting of course is the fact that the film develops a whole theory of time travel and how there is a kind of force that is invisible and that only Darko can see, that force comes from the chest and we it marks the way to future events that are about to happen. This theory is explained in the book that appears in the film.

There are hundreds of interpretations and conjectures that can be made about what we see on the screen, the truth is that there lies the essence of this work, which well seems like a chapter of unknown dimension (Twilight Zone).

The most interesting of all the approaches, I think, is when Darko can make changes in the events that are about to happen and that have been revealed to him. He must make a decision to get ahead of this kind of tangential reality that has been created and only he has the power to do so.

The truth is that there have already been films that handle these “windows” of time or, I do not know if they call them wormholes, even if they are not properly that, although reference is made to the theories handled by Stephen Hawking. I remember “The Philadelphia Project” but that was why the hole in time was fully justified.

In Donnie Darko, the justification is obvious to see what will happen at the end of the film, as a second chance that life gives you to fix things. However, it leaves us with the idea in the air about what the nature of that event is and why it happened to him. That is what allows philosophizing about this work and that is why it has taken it to where it is.

Regardless of its form, this film matters more, at least to me, the background. Although the design and atmosphere are good and the photography has quality, it handles good composition, angulations and camera movements that make it more interesting. The soundtrack is something special in this work, especially the theme of “Mad World”.

Although there is a supposed sequel, I’m left with this, the other is a mess that should not have existed and that actually attempts against its predecessor in multiple ways.

Whether there are trips in time or a kind of space-time anomalies created at random, or a timeless connection between Darko and Frank’s spirit, it does not matter. Donnie Darko is a work of science fiction that allows free mental exercise and endow it with different meanings or interpretations that make it unique, it is a true psychological thriller.

Rogue One: The balm that StarWars fans needed?

Rogue One is definitely made for the fans, but it also gives it that intense character in the battles that the youngest ones will appreciate.

star-wars-rogue-one-trailer-teaser

I guess many of us expected that when we saw “Long ago in a galaxy far, far away …” we would see more of the attempts of “someone else” to raise from the ashes the saga of which millions of fans were disappointed. Especially with chapters I, II and III. And not so much because they do not provide very good data of the original story conceived by George Lucas, but because of the great abuse of CGI comparable only to an addict to any substance at its worst, I think it has been the biggest reason for such disappointments.

However, Rogue One, incredible as it seems, manages to rescue much of that incredible atmosphere that all the fans experienced as children, especially because the visual aspect of the characters, environments, designs, etc … is what was seen in the first installments of this saga.

In fact, this Spin Off is located on the timeline between Chapter III and IV, which also makes it an Interquel of the original StarWars literature. Therefore it is not strange to find this environment that we all saw in the first delivery 39 years ago, which surely and without fear of being wrong, all fans will appreciate.

Since winning new followers in films like these is difficult, much more if references to other episodes abound, it’s nothing new.

The story has nothing new, in fact they are still the same facts so it was not difficult to “fit” all the pieces. But something that works and a lot is the creation of new characters such as Chirrut Imwe, Baze Malbus, K2SO, among others, that print the stamp of epic characters who give their lives for an ideal, and that from the beginning the audience surely empathizes with they.

The performances are compliant, Felicity Jones takes her role on track, being equal to Daisy Ridley in Force Awakens, For his part Diego Luna, meets, but something is missing, I think the role does not give for more …

Something that I have to definitely applaud in this film is the design of costumes and characters that are like those of those early years in which Star Wars was a phenomenon, as well as a better and more careful handling of the CGI, the quality achieved make it very believable and spectacular.

However the two characters “cloned” in CGI: Governor Tarkin who was at the time starring the late and great British actor Peter Cushing (Dracula 1958) and the young princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) *. Those who made this recreation of the characters left sweat and tears on computers to see again on screen especially the late Peter Cushing, however, and although they say that you do not notice the difference between the real characters and the CGI, let me tell you that IF YOU NOTE and a lot, but the animation work is exceptional, it is also noticeable.

Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) is known by all (Fans and not so fans) I think it was not necessary to put her young and with the front reflectors, (where CGI recreation is evident), this is where I say that the suggesting sometimes is much more profitable.

Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Monsters) decided on the advice of John Knoll visual effects supervisor of the film (Who came up with the plot of Rogue One) “revive” Cushing and rejuvenate Fisher, as always many will love and others do not. According to me, does not pay much to the film because you can see for miles the false montage that looks more like a Scrooge in Christmas Carol. The only hair in the soup ?, maybe.

The photography is very good, the color palette, the composition too. But it is clear that the continuists bring the best of the film as they reproduce all those fundamental elements of the first films of the Star Wars universe. Such as: The royal guard of the empire, The rebellious soldiers and their distinctive white helmets, The rebel base on Yavin, The strategic command center, The imperial AT-AT walkers, the defense canyons of the empire, the X-Wing, the famous rebel “Gold Leader”, Darth Vader with the original costume and many more elements of reference to the first three installments.

The character that all the followers of the saga made shudder with emotion was undoubtedly Darth Vader who looks at him ruthless, cruel and insensitive as in episode IV. That definitely works and very well, I think that while massacring the unfortunate rebel soldiers all were shocked and excited.

Regarding if it is a bad movie, I can say no, definitely by far exceeds the first three chapters of the saga. And all the elements together give us a good Spin-off that all the fans will see with very good eyes.

“Rogue One has the spirit for which we fell in love with the original trilogy” Rolling Stone.

* At the time I wrote this review Carrie Fisher had not died, but I decided to leave her as she was. RIP.

Silences in Cinematography

The aesthetic value of silence makes sense when, visually, it becomes present, and cuts the noise in the film. 

It is that inverse metaphor that lets you value what you have when there is nothing …

In film, image and silence began their walk hand in hand. And this relationship has maintained the aesthetic value that has added filmmakers such as Silvio Caiozzi, Jaques Tourmeur, Mike Nichols, Victor Erice, Martin Scorsese, Igmar Bergman, Jose Luis Cuerda, among others, who put a particular interest in silence in all your films.

Silence gives us concentration, introspection, memory … But to take us to that state, it must first of all produce tension, discomfort, get us out of that “spectator” state that we are when we watch a film. Only then can we reflect.

 

The moon in the mirror – Silvio Caiozzi (1992)

Silence by itself is useless, it must tell us something, as when accompanied by images. Without silence, a movie or any work becomes deafening, something that is left to listen.

When silence is used as a narrative element, it leads the viewer to find a special meaning in the plot, manipulates it so that he can decipher it.

 

Everything is Silence – José Luis Cuerda (2012)

Silence is as important as the sound in a film because of its special combination, together with the images can be emphasized on the moods of the characters, framing situations of anguish, stress or panic, of nostalgia, of reflection, even of loneliness.

When you watch a film it is good to value each silence, because like all audiovisual material, it carries an intention, a message, it is the connotation of something intangible that only shines when that silence becomes present.

Zhang Yimou: Color and kinematics of the senses

Undoubtedly one of the great authors of the new Chinese cinema, Zhang Yimou offers a unique cinematography that seeks to stimulate the senses through visual exuberance to another level.

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Whoever has not seen a Yimou movie is lost, above all, of a visual spectacle full of color, movement and composition that make them a true work of art, since it does not skimp on the elements that compose them, reflecting an imagination that conceive pure aesthetics.

Paying homage to Chinese culture and magnifying its colors, its environments, its traditions, solemnity, honor, but also revealing the human condition and framing the feelings of the characters in their works, with color, movement, nuances, contrasts, composition, just like an artist puts it into a painting.

Each painting is designed in an artistic way with the purpose of stimulating the senses, here, each visual resource gives the spectator that spark of amazement at what he is seeing, and is that the elements that stand out most in his cinematography are: color, production design, love of nature and a perfect composition.

Like any filmmaker, he has been perfecting and evolving as techniques allow, however from Red Sorghum or Ju Dou you look at those incredibly artistic elements and a filmography that would lead him to win the best director award at the Cannes Film Festival.

 

Colour

Yimou has a fascination for the colors blue, gold and red mainly, the greens and blacks too. And it uses them to a large extent to denote environments, moods, situations, etc. as in “Lanterne Rosse”. Color is a fundamental part of his filmography, even giving us color cues to discern between lines of his narrative.

Each color plays an important role in the visual narrative of his works. In “Hero” and “House of the flying dagger” the cinematics of the fights are undoubtedly very well accompanied by color. Even something that puts him out of all the other directors, are the changes of color in the environment, giving a unique visual force to his films.Video – Final fight in House of the flying daggers

 

Production and costume design

The costumes, the scenographies, the environments created for his films, have an impressive quality and design that are always appropriate to the environment, which support the setting and the verisimilitude of the story. Yimou uses very well the resource of period costumes to give more power to his film as in “Curse of the Golden Flower”

Extremely ostentatious and opulent dressing rooms that describe the way in which the emperors lived in China, as well as the locations of a great beauty as in “Hero” or “House of the flying dagger” adapted and decorated in a spectacular way, seasoned with panoramic framings and camera movements to generate a visual delight as in few cinematographic works

 

Nature

In all his films there is an appreciation for nature as it chooses the best natural scenarios that allow to pay aesthetics and give strength to the story with images that capture the eternal beauty of China’s landscapes exploiting them to the fullest.

The lakes, fields in winter, forests at fall fall are an important part of the stories and scenes of combats and not only serve as “background”, but the characters end up interacting with nature in a way that in particular reminds me of the principles of Kurosawa’s films with a kinematics rich in movements, both characters, elements such as wind, rain, snow, etc.

Only that Yimou takes it to another level, making changes in the colors of the environment, as it does in “Hero” and in “House of the flying dagger”

 

The legacy of an exuberant cinematography

Yimou’s cinematographic technique has already left its mark on the history of cinema. With a philosophical background full of color and exceptional composition has wanted to give a peculiar beauty to each of his shots, mainly using techniques of natural lighting, very detailed composition and camera movements that never leave excess.

 

Curse of the golden flower

It is not uncommon to hear or read reviews that indicate that some of his shots seem to be taken from paintings, true works of art. Taking film shots to that level as with the ancient painting techniques of Chinese dynasties is not easy and Yimou has achieved it, no doubt.

 

Chinese ancient painting

Reviewing his filmography we can find elements such as wind, fire, water, but also nature, a lot of nature such as forests, mountains, deserts, lakes, which together with the highlighted colors, movements and framings, millenary traditions and the imperfect human condition They convert their filmography into a true kinematics of the senses, an exquisite filmic dish to the sensory palate of the human being.