For Hitchcock himself, after the binges came the self-loathing and the crash diets. While making Lifeboat he became obsessed with his own mortality and lost a third of his body weight – 7st – on a diet of black coffee, lean meat and cantaloupe. His cameo in the finished film showed him as the ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots in a slimming ad; but soon the pounds crept back.
Apart from anything else, he ate incredibly quickly, gulping with barely a pause to chew. For all his patience and discipline in his working life – constructing detailed sets, correcting scripts, obsessing over the perfect gown for his latest icy blonde – what Hitchcock sought in food was a quick fix. Along with eggs, he also claimed to have a phobia for making soufflé, because he couldn’t stand the suspense of waiting 40 minutes to see how it would turn out. Then again, his daughter Pat said that soufflé was one of his favourite desserts, so, as so often, he may have been teasing us.
The Great Gatsby - Baz Luhrman
There’s such vitality and sense of urgency that roars throughout the first quarter of Luhrman’s frantic adaptation of Fitzgerald’s wonderful novel that you can’t help but be swept into it all. From Nick Carraway’s second drunken experience, Daisy’s dreamy entrance and that party, you’re basically pummeled into a state of awe. While I can’t really find fault in this approach, having loved Moulin Rouge (and really liked Romeo and Juliet), it suddenly becomes boring. It’s unfortunate because there’s a lot to enjoy throughout the film, but there’s a moment when everything exciting feels obvious or obscene.
But those parties, its costumes and, albeit to a lesser extent, the music were all so shiny and bright that I found myself lost on its surface and ready to forgive its lack of substance, and then I was bored and frustrated. And took a short nap. The only reason I’ve not completely written it off is because there are moments of genius that capture the spirit of Fitzgerald’s novel so completely that it would be unfair to call it a failure. At the end of the film, with The XX over the closing credits, I was upset that I didn’t love it more.
I suppose even Gatby’s smile of eternal reassurance couldn’t completely win me over. But damn, did he try.
“Ultimately, the heartrending thing about Inside Llewyn Davis is its meditation on career success and career failure, and the unknowable moment when the one turns into the other. The Coens allow us to be unsure about the point of Llewyn’s music: is it obviously brilliant and destined for success? Or is the point rather that he is talented, but not in a way that guarantees triumph? Llewyn is at least partly depressed about the way mediocrities do well in this world: silly singing acts in cable-knit sweaters. He could just be ahead of his time, but will the imminent arrival of Bob Dylan mean that his kind of difficult music will finally get what it deserves? Or just consign him even more brutally to an honourable second place? The intense sadness that permeates every chord and every note of his music, could be a desperate requiem for his own dreams, his own musical career. What an intense pleasure this film is, one of the Coens’ best, and the best so far at Cannes.”
Jeune et Jolie - François Ozon
“The very heightened reality around her, her evil nature, was rooted in a kind of Macbeth approach. And she was this all-consuming insect who would even feed on her own offspring. I always felt that evil was more effective the more feminine it was. If you look at Norse mythology, women were always regarded as the primal, evil creature.”
-Nicolas Winding Refn
Twenty Shots to Be Henceforth Retired from Film Vocabulary
1. Moving clouds sped up.
2. It starts off in a long shot and a guy’s all far away and walking toward the camera and you’re all “Uh-oh am I going to have to watch him walk the whole way?” and you do and it takes three minutes or more. “Ooh, look at me, I’m sculpting with time!” Fuck you.
3. Alienated teen or adolescent girl in the passenger side of a car driving down the highway, window rolled down, her hand swaying in the wind as she zips down a road to Who Knows Where.
4. Overhead shot of protagonist in the rain, arms spread, just letting the downpour COME. Laughing optional. (See The Shawshank Redemption, Pleasantville, Instinct)
5. All side angle above-boob shower shots of women “cleansing” themselves of previous events. (Also: Into mirror shots of people washing faces in the sink, then looking up to examine their wet face in the mirror, mouth open. Extra hate to those that move characters from grimaces to tears.)
6. Protagonist on mass transit, looking pensive. Literally everyone looks miserable on mass transit. This conveys no information other than maybe they don’t have a car. And turn off that fucking melancholic electronica, while you’re at it.
7. Mexican/Sicilian/Indian/Iranian children running through streets without a care in the world, smiling and laughing, running right by a mother who hardly notices them, so busy is she hanging laundry.
8. Helicopter shots of anything meant to signify connectedness. (NOTE: Helicopter shots for no good reason, however, can definitely stay.)
9. Any shot of someone throwing or catching a football especially slow motion with background a crowd in soft-focus. (NOTE: Footballs thrown against rubber tires to signify erectile dysfunction can stay.)
10. Dude goes to open a safe or a refrigerator or whatever and PRESTO the camera’s shooting out from inside the safe or refrigerator or whatever. That’s some bush league My First Creative Camerawork shit.
11. Anything with barrel distortion. I will slap that fucking 10mm lens off your camera, hotshot.
12. Shots of people dropping objects from the perspective of the object being dropped.
13. Super close-ups of old people’s eyes. Waking up from a dream or something. It means the film will be from his/her point of view and will probably flash back because we don’t want to watch movies entirely about old people. These moments are meant to instill gravity, because seeing crow’s feet in extreme close-up makes us contemplate death. (See The Green Mile, Saving Private Ryan, Titanic)
14. Epiphanies while jogging—gliding tracking shot, then pull up short when they get winded, physically and existentially. alternative: keep going as they double over.
15. In documentaries: Stock footage of 1950s appliance ads and educational reels for goofy/eerie/conformism effect. Also in docs: comic beats that rely on holding the shot slightly too long on an interviewee after he’s obliviously said something weird/dorky.
16. In trailers: Character’s chest is heaving from the exertion of a hasty retreat. He or she is slumped but still wary, back to a wall. Is it gone? Can it hear me? You can hear the percussive thump-thump, thump-thump of their heartbeat, louder and louder, coming though on the Dolby. Stop heartbeat. Screen goes black. They’re safe? OHMYGODNO IT’S A 30-FRAME CUTAWAY OF SOMETHING SCARY AHAHHAHAHAHAHAAAAA.
17 Goes without saying, but shit blowing up while somebody walks away and DOESN’T EVEN TURN AROUND THEY’RE SO NONPLUSSED* (buttrock riffs on soundtrack, usually)
18. Old-timey camera flashbulb close-up opens shot. Often in slo-mo so you can see the scorching filament. (See: every Scorsese movie save Kundun—and I’ll have to go check that).
19. Over-the-shoulder long takes that supposedly get in the mind of the character but only show their shoulder, really, and maybe an ear. Doesn’t work anymore, post Rosetta. (See: The Wrestler)
20. Anything like the still from The Pope’s Toilet, above.
* [ED. “unperturbed” or “self-possessed”? — **ED ED. Certainly not ”a state of bafflement or perplexity”]
via: Reverse Shot
“Rope is, or purports to be, a one-shot film: an experiment in real-time, continuous-take cinema. Alexander Sokurov achieved the real thing in 2001’s Russian Ark with one gargantuan 96-minute Steadicam shot looping around the St Petersburg Hermitage. Made 53 years earlier, Rope is neither as smooth, nor as mobile. Technically, the best thing here is the studio skyline-backdrop, with fibreglass clouds, a travelling sun and neon lights that blink a garish red and green as the film reaches its climax. Hitchcock’s camera was loaded with 10-minute reels, and had to duck behind an actor’s back, or a piece of furniture, to “invisibly” cut from one piece of film to the next. This clunkiness can be part of the film’s claustrophobic strength though: the coffin-chest is rarely out of shot, and the camera follows the actors around every square inch of the confined set. They’re trapped, and so is the audience. Perversely, this cinematic experiment replicates the theatrical experience: Rope feels “live”, which means that at any minute one of the actors could do something unexpected, such as fluff their lines, or heaven forbid, open the trunk.”
*Editor’s note: Mind blown. Look forward to a Stay post on Dressing in the Dark sooner than later.