Elsewhere: Bela Tarr is one of many yawning voids in my viewing, but because I arranged my 20th & 21st century lit class around the movies [shorter pieces engaging directly with them; longer ones having subsequently been adapted into them], this piece intrigued me [via]:
Speaking of long takes, I showed my film class The Kiss leading into our discussion of the long take, but what I really enjoyed in this post was its examination of The Life of an American Fireman [and this week we talk about continuity editing]:
As soon as cross-cutting was an option, it would quickly become the norm. Filmmakers would abandon the all-or-nothing approach—because it makes no sense. It is absolutely insane to run a scene through in its entirety, then roll back to the beginning and watch it all over again from a different angle. It feels like we’re watching the daily rushes, an unfinished product.
Another link swiped from the Film Doctor [who I still can't believe I haven't met yet], this time on depth of field:
The look and feel of this film—an utterly bizarre spectacle of non-traditional framing, focus, and perspectives, shot in a harsh chiaroscuro—depends upon Welles’s technical expertise as much as his desire to both build off of and undermine his history as a filmmaker. That major sequence in the office is typical of the self-mythology the film conspires to deconstruct: it is at once the quintessential Orson Welles shot and a kind autocritical counterpoint to the same, exaggerating the director’s affinity for the grandiose in a context that seems to demand the opposite. It is a caricature of the expected Welles “bigness” of image precisely because the feeling at the heart of The Trial is internal, rooted in the mind: this is a “small” film, in the sense that its fears are located in the paranoia of one man wrongly persecuted, and yet Welles shoots it as if it were an epic.
A tantalizing tease from Nicholas Rombes, another of those smart film people I've been way too careless about meeting in real life:
One more from FOC Aaron Dobbs, which recalled a conversation I had last week with Richard Neupert, a film prof at UGA who also serves on the board of Ciné Athens (run by my grad school classmate, Gabe Wardell) about DCP and one of my film class alums (he failed, thanks to devoting his energies that semester to the campus radio station), the technology manager there. Essentially, he worried the kid would get bored because DCP was "just pushing a button":
What amused me most about this round-up was how many of the indies mentioned in it* I've actually seen:
Two black-and-white comedies took home a lot of green this summer, too: Noah Baumbach’s buzzy Greta Gerwig vehicle Frances Ha made $4 million, while Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing scored $4.2 million ... not bad for a microbudget Shakespeare film that Whedon had originally intended to release online. Radius-TWC’s 20 Feet From Stardom is another summer success story: The backup singer documentary has earned a remarkable $4 million so far, and the jubilant hit is well-positioned for Oscar consideration down the line. Let’s hope awards voters also remember the rapturously reviewed Before Midnight, which has taken home almost $8 million since May, a sum higher than either of the Ethan Hawke–Julie Delpy romances that preceded it.
*For those playing along at home: Frances Ha, 20 Feet From Stardom, Before Midnight, The To-Do List, The Bling Ring, Stories We Tell, I'm So Excited! [Among the other titles mentioned, I could give a shit about The Way, Way Back or Much Ado About Nothing.]
Learn about Laver's Law from the Siren. Made me feel even better for asking students which movies they'd seen the most times on the first day of class:
Laver's Law applies to cinema.
Laver's Law was the creation of James Laver, an art historian and curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum, who helped create the field of fashion history as we know it today. His law is, as it should be, of the utmost elegant simplicity. In a book called Taste and Fashion(1937), he proposed that the way we regard fashions in clothing forms a predictable cycle over time. One item, such as a dress, will be regarded in a number of ways as the years roll on....