Wednesday, 5 March 2014

March 2014

'The Great Beauty' (2013)
dir: Paolo Sorrentino


'Not Fade Away' (2012)
dir: David Chase

Sunday, 2 February 2014

February 2014

'Ghostbusters' (1984)
dir: Ivan Reitman

'The Great Outdoors'  (1988)
dir: John Hughes

'Elysium' (2013)
dir: Neill Blomkamp

'The Wind Rises' (2013)
dir: Hayao Miyazaki

'The Summit' (2012)
dir: Nick Ryan

'The Lego Movie' (2014)
dirs: Chris Miller & Phil Lord

'Mr. Peabody & sherman' (2014)
dir: Rob Minkoff

'Proof' (1991)
dir: Jocelyn Moorhouse

'The Monuments Men' (2014)
dir: George Clooney

'A Field In England' (2013)
dir: Ben Wheatley

'The Crash Reel' (2013)
dir: Lucy Walker

'Sleeping Beauty' (1959)
dir: Clyde Geronomi


'The Selfish Giant' (2013)
Dir: Clio Barnard

Northern England.  Bradford present day. Young lad literally in the wrong side of the tracks when he and a mate steal the cable from under the noses of adult thieves. They sell it in to a local scrap dealer, Kitten, whose pony they have borrowed for the caper.  Dickensian. Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer of the north.

Mum distraught. Tries to get him to take his medication for his ADD. He's thrown out of school.  Scrap collecting.  The kids get more ambitious. Want to make some real money. His 'pikey' pal demonstrates an affinity with horses.  His grandfather was a rag and bone man.

The grown ups race horses and chariots. The Scrap dealers' horse loses. He's described as a 'wannabe gypsy'.   The friend's parents are visited by debt collectors- he's able to hold them off with the cash he earned for last batch of scrap and save their settee.

Swifty goes to school. Arbur hires the scrap dealers horse.  Goes to pick up friend from school.  They go scrap hunting.  Copper wire. Bold theft of a giant roll of wire used by tv cable installers. They burn off the rubber outing. Arbor sees electricity cable as potentially lucrative.

They get more cash than ever for their latest haul. Swifty allowed to test his horse &cart driving ability.   Kitten is impressed.  Arbor takes off on the cart. Admonished by Kitten but he reveals the worth of the horse= 15,000.
The boys return home- Arbors mum in tears- window smashed. Axe buried in front door.  Older brother in trouble with drug circle.  Arbor consoles her. The boys play around with a hammer on a trampoline in the yard.  Police come around.  Arbor insists they remove their shoes.  The formally interview him under caution.  Investigating railway trespass, vandalism, cable theft.
Mum denies his involvement but orders Arbor keep away from Kitten.
Arbor and Swifty are straight back with Kitten training with the horse . He asks Swifty to race.
Arbor repeats his mums warning to Swifty: Kitten's using you
The boys find a rusted old car and try to dismantle it. Arbor enlists the help of local lads to lift the car onto their cart. They manage to get it back to the scrapyard . A burnt out car has no value.
Arbor steals more copper from the yard. He has lost all trust in Kitten.
Swifty finds his stash of stolen copper. Swifty wants to keep I Kittens favor so he can race.  The boys argue but go out scarp collecting around gardens.
They find a fallen electricity cable. Arbor makes it to test it on a dial. Swifty stops him. Arbor removes the stolen copper from his shed. Takes horse and cart into town. Industrial scrap yard. Foreman dismisses him.
Dealers filial to him show up in a van. Discover the copper and Arbors scheme. They take it in for him. They keep all the money leaving him with nothing. Swifty returns to downed cable to find the dial killed by it. He's crushed. Blames Arbor.
Arbor returns the horse and cart to the yard.  Sees Swifty. Kitten takes himself, threatens him with golf club. Threatens to cut off his hand. Demands his money -1000 . Sends him I a mission to steal cable. Swifty looks concerned for his friend. Concrete blocks over manhole covers indicate the treasure. Swifty shows up and confronts him about the foal.  Arbor swears he's not responsible. They reconcile and shift the block and cut theougj the manhole cover together.  Arbor saws through the wire but Swifty is electrocuted. Time passes. Arbor awakes to find his friend  a charred corpse.
Arbor is devastated .  Wild geese on the soundtrack.
He loads Swifty's body onto the cart. Returns to the yard.  Kicks Kitten in the balls. Strangles him. Wife fights him off. Workers lock him up. Kitten
sees the body.  Police show up. Release Arbor, still angry.  Kitten takes responsibility and is arrested. Arbor runs off. Tramps through a field in the rain .  Finds the dead foal. Returns to Swifty's  home in terrestrial downpour.  Mum turns him away. Knocks again. Rejected a second time.  Sits outside in the rain.  A third knock gets him a cuff around the ear from the father.  He sits outside the ought he night. Morning.  His own mum appears - tries to console him. Swifty's mum watches. Arbor refuses his mums touch. He's lying beneath the bed where the film began.  His brother finds him. Appeals for him to come out. Swifty appears to him and holds his hand. He lets go of Arbors hand. Mum enters . Swifty's mum has come around. Arbor comes out from under the bed and hugs her tightly .
He is in a stable brushing the horse, Diesel.

Black screen, ambient sounds. The end.


'Out of the Furnace'  (2013)
Dir: Scott Cooper

Open on a drive in theatre.  Woody Harrelson's character DeGroat abuses his partner and beats a man who tries to protect her.

Cut to modern day Pittsburgh. Steel mine. Eddie Veder soundtrack . Christian Bale's character, Russell, leaves work. He spots his brothers' car outside a gambling den. Discovers he is in debt. They part.
Cut to next morning.  Russ is in bed with his girlfriend. They talk.  She wants a baby.
Cut to pulls up at his dads place. Rodney is there in army fatigues. Their uncle is there.  Dad in deaths door imbed . The brothers agree to meet at a bar later and part.

Cut to the bar. Campaigning for Obama on the TV.
Casey doesn't show. Chats to barman, goes in back. Finds Woody threatening Willem Defoe . Confrontation with Bale. Pays him money that Rodney owes. Bale drives into the night. Car crash. He comes too. Checks the other car. Sees body of a child. Stops another car.

Cut to him welding.  He's in Prison.  Rodney visits.
He mops the halls. Dissolve to bedtime. Writing to girlfriend. Next day. Confronted by a gang and beaten. Saved by the guards but injured. Fade to black .

Time has passed. Rodney with a beard. Beaten face healed . Their Dad has died.
He gets a tattoo of his brothers name on his arm.
Chapel. Released. Rodney meets him at the gate now shaven headed.  They drive back to the steel mill town. They visit their dads grave . Cut to night, home - the brothers talk. Girlfriend has left him.

(This is very economical storytelling)
Next day. Police man drops off the ex girlfriend. Forest Whitaker. He sees Bale watching her.
Taking paint off door. Helicopter shot- bare knuckle fighting in abandoned steel mill. Rodney fights. Defoe watches.
Intercut with Bale repairing windows. Painting .
Rodney beats his opponent until he's dragged off him. Admonished by Defoe for NOT throwing the fight . Rodney suggests fighting up in Jersey where the money is better.  Defoe advises him to steer clear of it and go work in the mill like his dad and bro.

He returns home later that night . Bale siting outside . Brief exchange.
Next day. Bale looks at his brother asleep on the couch. Covers him with a blanket. Back at the mill.
Washes dishes and cleans
Up that night. Finds bloodied bandages. Confronts Rodney- asks to see his hands. Bruised knuckles.
Rodney does not want to work at the mill. The mill killed their dad. Recounts war horrors. Anger at the lack of work for returning servicemen. Dorms out.
Rodney goes to John and demands a goo fight up in Jersey. John refuses point blank. Rodney begs.  He relents but warns him.

Another fight. Woody watches. Answers call from John.

Bale, home thinking of his ex. Watches her. With school kids. Approaches her in playground. She is happy to see him. They go for a walk together.  They discuss the mills imminent closure. He tells her how much he has Missed her And wants to rekindle Their relationship. She reveals she is pregnant . They cry together and hug. She leaves him alone on the bridge. Cross dissolve to mom at the sene of the car crash holding a bunch if flowers. High angle crane down. He breaks down as he lays them on the road.
Factories spewing plumes
Uncle reg sips by. Bale still working in the house. He has a flower for the cemetery . They visit the grave then head out to hunt together. Cross cut with John driving Rodney north. Each brother with an older man. John finds the hillbillies outbuilding . Woody playing cards. Confrontation , sizing each other up.
Cut back to the hunters . Back to the fighters . Rodney reluctant to take a dive for Woody. The hunt, cross cut with fight prep. Bale finds a deer. He can't shoot it. Woody gathers Rodney for the fight and instructs him no bad ages- bare knuckles. Uncle Reg skins his catch.
Fight is on. Hunters drag the deer carcass to their truck. The fight is brutal. Defoe watches- looks
Like his character in Wild at Heart. Rodney does not throw the fight . The deer dead in the back of the truck at night. Rodney bears his opponent . Defoe tries to appeal. Rodney tries to make
Or look like he loses. Lets himself be beaten to a bloody pulp. The crowd aren't happy . The hunters bleed the deer.  Rodney is badly hurt.  Woody comes Back to talk to him. He almost reneges on a . they are pursued es by Woody and his gang. The gang take them into the woods. Russ finds alerted from Rodney back at the home. Gang drag Rodney into the woods. He is shot dead.
Voice Over Rodney reading his letter - one last fight. Reg finishes skinning the deer carcass. Police knock on the door. Ex girlfriends man. Early morning . . Phone recording of Woody and Defoe. Gunshot.
Police chief talks of hillbilly justice. Russ is standoffish and dissatisfied. Uncle Reg encourages him to leave. Russell enquires for an address for DeGroat. They go to John Petty's place and discover he owed a lot of money to DeGroat . Russell leaves, talks to Uncle Reg.  they drive into the Appalachians. Night.  They stop at drugstore , ask local youths for drugs.  They follow the tattooed punks to their  hovel - squat, addicts lie around , squalid. They're led to the attic, the boss quizzes them. Calls their bluff by asking Russ to test the crystal. Enquires about Harland DeGroat .  Discovers they're in his house ! They leave. Back at the drugstore . A cop rolls up and quizzes them - gun drawn . He knows who they are- alerted by chief Barnes. Russell refuses to leave the state. He cop insists and escorts them out .  Back at the steel town. Russ examines a picture of his brother . Walks and remembers them as children playing around the steel mill. Camera circles him, he's mulling his options. Walking
Into work. Bumps into chief Wesley. Jersey police have found his brothers body.  Night - Red, Russell, Wesley and the ex. Eat dinner together .
Intimate scene in kitchen between Russ and ex . She appeals to him not to try anything else  in revenge . Wesley warns him too.
Back at the country house DeGroat cooks up.  Match cut to smelting ore in mill. A junkie hillbilly knocks in the door. A silent tactical force approach across the field. DeGroat injects himself. Between toes.  He's not in the same house- Silence of the Lambs trick!
Russ gets a phone all and rages. Church. A black priest sermonizes . Russ decides to go after DeGroat. Act 3
Goes through Johns desk looking for the ledger.  Finds the address. Cut to the fight shack. DeGroat gets a phone call from Russ offering to settle Johns debts. Tempts him to the town.
Showdown.
DeGroat shows up John place with a flunky. Russ approaches with a loaded rifle. DeGroat beats Johns associate Dan. Forces him to open safe. Shoots Dan and

makes off out the back with money. His van doesn't start so he runs away towards abandoned steel mill.  Russ stalks him like the deer in the forest .  They tussle. Russell takes aim and shots DeGrot in the thigh , forces him to get up and limp outside. Shoots him again, in the back.  DeGrot is down but still alive. Shit in the side. He gets up again. Police race to the scene. DeGrot walking into a fiel. Russ takes aim a final time. Chief Wesley implores him to drop the weapon.  He fires and kills his brother's murderer.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

January 2014

'Jack Reacher' (2012)
dir: Christopher McQuarrie
DP: Caleb Deschanel


Sophomore effort by McQuarrie after his debut as director of 'Way Of The Gun' over a decade ago. Better known as a writer of muscular pics with a brain-'The Usual Suspects', 'Valkyrie'.  Stages the dynamic action scenes with clarity and gets a lot from an eclectic cast inc. Werner Herzog as the villain and a cameo from Robert Duvall.

Stylishly photographed by veteran DP Deschanel.  The picture was shot at unusual and interesting locations around Pennsylvania.
A follow up film mining the source novels by Lee Child would not be unwelcome. It's easy to see why Cruise has tapped McQuarrie for a fifth Mission:Impossible film.

'Jeune er Jolie' (2013)
Dir: Francois Ozon

'Cutie and the Boxer'  (2013)
dir: Zachary Heinzerling
Touching documentary on husband and wife creative force Ushio and Noriko Shinohara. Twenty years younger than her husband Noriko has struggled to find her own identity as an artist since meeting him in the 60s.

'1: Life on theEdge' (2013)
dir: Paul Crowder
Thrilling history of Formula 1 racing and the efforts to improve the safety record of the sport. Every surviving Grand Prix winner from the past 40 years appear on camera making the absence of those killed on the race circuit felt that much more.

'The Great Beauty' (2013)
dir: Paolo Sorrentino

'Urbanized' (2011)
dir: Gary Hustwit

Urban planning in the 21st century

'The Hunt' (2013)
dir: Thomas Vintergerg

'Hansel & Gretel: Witch hunters'  (2013)
Dir: Tommy Wirkola
Evil Dead for kids!

'Lovelace' (2013)
dir: Rob Epstein Jeffrey Friedman
Exploitation in every sense.  'Boogie Nights' lite

'American Hustle' (2013)
dir: David O. Russell

With countless swooping camera moves Russell is aiming for 'Goodfellas' or 'Boogie Nights' but coming off shallow.  A handsome and very game cast dress up in silly 70s wigs and give it all they've got.

'Inside Llewyn Davis' (2013)
dir: Joel & Ethan Coen

'Blue Is the Warmest Colour' (2013)

'August Osage County' (2013)

'Le Week-end' (2013)
dir: Roger Michell

'Dom Hemingway' (2013)

'Filth' (2013)
dir: Jon S. Baird

'Dom Hemingway' (2013)
dir: Richard Shepherd

'Kevorkian'  (2010)
dir: Matthew Galkin

'A Hijacking' (2012)
dir: Tobias Lindholm

'The Act of Killing' (2012)
dir: Joshua Oppenheimer

'Seven Psychopaths' (2012)
dir: Martin McDonagh

'Human Nature' (2001)
dir: Michel Gondry

'Detachment' (2011)
dir: Tony Kaye

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Recommended reading

1)  THE ART OF DRAMATIC WRITING by Lajos Egri
- considered one of the best books on structure...period.  Andrew Stanton says this is his " most dog-eared book "
written in the 30's and pertaining primarily to PLAYWRITING, it's a truly eye opening read.  also deemed a STORY must by Joe Ranft, Andrew Stanton, Alexander Mackendrick, and many, many more.

2)  ON FILM-MAKING by Alexander MacKendrick
- Ealing studios writer/director ( Ladykillers, Sweet smell of success and more ) and CalArts legend Alexander MacKendrick's book of teachings and insight is the culmination of many years of DOING and TEACHING about it...absolute gold.

3)  ON DIRECTING FILM by David Mamet
- a lean, mean series and course work on the craft of FILMMAKING by the great David Mamet.

4)  IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE by Walter Murch
-  a literally eye-opening work about the craft of FILM EDITING.  a book that can be read over and over again that continues to be useful for developing your EDITORIAL senses.

5)  ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE and MORE ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE by William Goldman
-  two wonderfully insightful and anecdotal books by screenwriter supreme, William Goldman ( all the presidents men, princess bride, misrery etc...).  He tackles many subjects that the film scenarist has to deal with, using his personal experiences as the basis for deep insight. his discourse on the challenges and pitfalls in ADAPTATING material for the screen is particularly amazing.

6)  TRUFFAUT-HITCHCOCK by Francois Truffaut
- a book length series of conversations between film giants.  a book unrivaled in it's depth and analysis of the mind of the filmmaker.  the discourse between these two ( mostly recorded in the 60's ) will teach you more about great storytelling than many other 'how-to' books.

7)  20 MASTER PLOTS AND HOW TO BUILD THEM by Ronald Tobias
- a useful examination on the 'archetypal' plot structures that MOST films follow. a reminder that while there are any number of ways to tell a good story, there are always foundational guidelines to buttress them.

8)  THE VISUAL STORY: SEEING THE STRUCTURE OF FILM, TV, and NEW MEDIA by Bruce Block
-  Block's examination of iconography, motifs and rhythm in Visual Storytelling is a MUST for any Story Artist, and his techniques and practices are in heavy use throughout our work.

9)  FILM DIRECTING SHOT BY SHOT:  VISUALIZZING FROM CONCEPT TO SCREEN by Steve Katz
- formal and foundational study of the nuts and bolts of the scene mechanics, shot design, staging and execution for aspiring filmmakers. dry, but essential reference.

10)  INVISIBLE INK by Brian McDonald
-  with keen insight and some surprising revelations, Brian's book on the UNDERSTRUCTURE of story is a must read!
10b) THE GOLDEN THEME be Brian McDonald
- the sequel/companion to Invisible Ink, this time the emphasis is on the underlying and universal notion of the GOLDEN THEME.

11)  MAKING MOVIES by Sindey Lumet
- step into the mind of the great director as he breaks down the DIRECTOR's process. f you've never seen any of Lumet's films, put them on your PRIORITY ONE list! ( network, the verdict, dog day afternoon, 12 angry men...)

12)  CONVERSATIONS WITH WILDER by Cameron Crowe
- another excellent dialogue between two filmmakers that gives you the kind of insight into Wilder's work that you may not find anywhere else.

13)  FINAL CUT: ART, MONEY, and EGO IN THE MAKING OF HEAVEN'S GATE by Steven Bach
- an absolutely stunning book that peels back the curtain on major film studio United Artists and the film that sank it, Michael Cimino's HEAVEN's GATE.  Written in an amazingly frank and insightful way by Creative Executive Steven Bach, this book offers unfettered access to moviemaking from both the creative and financial sides of the coin.  it also delves deep into the history of the studio and the way the the system has changed and mutated...nearly impossible to put down, and you won't need to see Heaven's Gate to enjoy it.

14) COMICS and SEQUENTIAL ART by Will Eisner
- The definitive Study by the Grand Master of Graphic Storytelling, Will Eisner, this book is a MUST for anyone involved in VISUAL STORYTELLING.

15) UNDERSTANDING COMICS by Scott McCloud
- award winning examination of the function and practice of visual communication in COMICS. a keen and surprisingly unique book that is another essential for Visual Storytellers.

16) CINEMATIC MOTION by Steven Katz

17) THE 5 Cs OF CINEMATOGRAPHY by Joseph Mascelli

18) FILM EDITING by Karel Reisz

19) THE CONVERSATIONS: Michael Ondaatje and Walter Murch

20) TRICKSTER MAKES THIS WORLD by Lewis Hyde
-This one is integral for a lot of reasons, but mainly because it helps define character archetypes and really explores sets of rules you can use to keep characters "in character".  ( note: this one is dense and academic...but amazing )

21) A SHORT HISTORY OF MYTH by Karen Armstrong
-Very unique breakdown of myth and WHY myths are created, laid out in a historical timeline of where and why myths evolved culturally. What's great for story purposes is that it helps give a sort of blueprint of how to develop plot through character stakes, a key to why myths are timeless and relatable to the masses.

22) ON WRITING be Stephen King
- surprising, personal and practical, here is a book on the craft from one of the master's of his art.

23) THE CREATIVE HABIT by Twyla Tharp

24) USES OF ENCHANMTMENT by Bruno Bettelheim.

25) THE WRITER's JOURNEY by Christopher Vogler
- Vogler applies the teachings of legendary Mythology JOSEPH CAMPBELL to Film Structure in this rewarding book.  In addition to covering all of the parts of the journey from a practical standpoint, he applies the breakdown to a number of familiar films. Very helpful for STRUCTURE.


plus

Edward Dymytrk's books on editing, directing, cutting.

The Stansilavski acting books


-Derek thompson, Pixar Storyman

Friday, 22 November 2013

Black Angel

Roger Christian's legendary 'lost' short film originally attached to prints of 'The Empire Strikes Back' in the UK & Australia.  CINEMATOGRAPHY BY ROGER PRATT.






Monday, 26 August 2013

'Dark Shadows' 2012 dir: Tim Burton

Photographed by Bruno Delbonnel with Arricam-ST cameras and Cooke lenses.