Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Dynamite from a Film Student

Last night I discovered a series of video "essays about art", or artistic case studies, commenting on various films of the last few decades.   So far I've enjoyed nearly ten of them, and have been utterly impressed with the quality of his commentary, and the production values of the vids themselves.  I've embedded a few below just as a sample of the kind of content he produces.

Gotham: A History of Batman's City

"Gotham is a city that's performed; we know it by the stories that happen there, by the spaces generated by encounters in the night. In this view its many versions don't register as inconsistencies, but cohere into a new way to think of cities, as a site of constant reinvention...as a place that can't be mapped by its buildings and streets, but by the events, people, and minds that make them."

Why Prisoner of Azkaban was the Best Movie

"[Consider the director's] fondness for a moving, often hand-held camera. Just take a quick, sped-up look from this early scene set in the Great Hall. Not a single shot is stationary;  this gives the scene and the film a feeling of forward momentum and establishes a curious camera, but it also lends to the film a sense of unease, an inability to find stable footing. For a  film that is to be haunted by a feared killer throughout, such a style is fitting."

"Synder could make the Justice League a a out and out comedy,and  it still wouldn't fix what I see as a fundamental problem in his filmmaking, something that's really apparent in Batman vs. Superman: his preoccupation, his obsession, with moments at the expense of scene. What do I mean by this? Movie moments are awesome. A really great moment can be transcendent, can leave a deep visual impression on a viewer. They can come to represent a whole new category of feeling. Zack Synder is obviously obsessed with Moments: the film is chock full of them.  Moments when time is slowed down and the composition is just right, when the score swells and the film tries to broadcast a single message: BE AWED. What Batman v Superman really lacks is...scenes. Actual scenes, not just filler between moments. Scenes are hard to define, but what a good scene does is dissolve the actors and soundstage and camera angles into a living, breathing reality. There should be a strong sense of Place, a feeling of Possibility, that the characters who occupy the space could go anywhere within it.   Too often in Batman v Superman, the characters feel awkwardly placed in their scenes. Does anyone get the sense that Clark Kent and Lois Lane actually spend time in the Daily Planet? We visit the Planet eight times, but the longest scene there is only 1:11. The rest are under a minute, often under 30 seconds. This doesn't feel like a place; it feels like a fraction of a location where people say lines."

Interstellar: When Spectacle Eclipses Story

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