Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Encylopedia of Cinematography (K-L)

Kagemusha (Takao Saito and Shoji Ueda, 80)
Wow--what a color pallette!  Spellbinding!  And I type that while trying to keep my shit together!!

The Killing (Lucien Ballard, 56)  
The beginnings of Stanley Kubrick's balanced, nuanced signature style, in collaboration with a master photographer who had no real respect for this young visionary (though old-guard Ballard did as he was told anyway).  
 
The Killing Fields (Chris Menges, 84)
A splendid melding of documentary and narrative photography stylings, in service of a brutal and moving tale of war, survival, and friendship.  

The King and I (Leon Shamroy, 56) 
The opulence of an unapproachable king, set against the giving heart of a lowly governess. Stupefyingly beautiful, all the way through--especially when they dance!  

King Solomon's Mines (Robert Surtees, 50) 
A proud progenitor of the action/adventure movie, in full and replete color.  

Kings of the Road (Robby Müller and Martin Schäfer, 76) 
A superb, expansive use of black and white.   

The King's Speech (Danny Cohen, 2010) 
Very unusual framing and color choices here, in a movie that could have been much less demanding in its success.  

Kiss Me, Deadly (Ernest Laszlo, 55)
For my money, the king of all noirs, with darkness, dutch angles, and wild, slashing shadows galore.  

Klute (Gordon Willis, 71) 
Willis adds his creepy command of darkness to Alan J. Pakula's thriller, with superb effect.  

The Knack, and How To Get It (David Watkin, 65)
Crazy oversaturated and often dreamy images dot this nutso comedy set in Swingin' London.  

Koyannisqatsi (Ron Fricke, 82)
Documentary photography like you've never seen it before.  Truly one-of-a-kind camera mastery here, with overexposures, slow motion and time lapse shots like you wouldn't believe.  
 
Kramer vs. Kramer (Nestor Alamendros, 79)
Warm and cozy NYC filmmaking of the highest order; incredible in that it seems so unassuming, and yet is so continually gorgeous. 
 
Kundun (Roger Deakins, 97)
Every shot here is astounding in its endlessly dazzling use of color instensity and composition.  
 
Kwaidan (Yoshio Miyagima, 64)
A nightmarish creep-out, this one, with always inventive widescreen work.  

L.A. Confidential (Dante Spinotti, 97)  
In its telling of a pulpy tale, it merges the real with the unreal, all while set in a land of dreams.  Completely energetic and ravishing. 

Lancelot du Lac (Pasqualino de Santis, 74) 
The brutality of King Arthur's court, shot with lush grit. 

Lassie Come Home (Leonard Smith, 43) 
Sumptuous, delicious Technicolor work, in service of our collective love of animals, and starring the most charismatic animal star of all time.
 
The Last Picture Show (Robert Surtees, 71)
The incredible B&W photography is so much like a film of the era in which it's set (the early 50s), it's impossible to believe it hails from the 70s. IMPOSSIBLE! 
 
Last Tango in Paris (Vittorio Storaro, 72)
Storaro furthers his collaboration with Bernardo Bertolucci, and amazes us with each shot of this groundbreaking classic.  

Last Year at Marienbad (Sacha Vierny, 61)
Dream photography nonpareil!  

The Last Emperor (Vittorio Storaro, 87)  
More work from Storaro and Bertolucci, this time capturing China's Forbidden City in all its tremendous opulence.

The Last Temptation of Christ (Michael Ballhaus, 88)  
A succession of stunning images that will sear themselves into your brain!  Jesus--a man of impeccable tastes--would have wanted it so. 
 
The Last Waltz (Michael Chapman, Laszlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond, 78) 
Possibly the most dynamically filmed concert performance ever to hit the screen.  

L’Atalante (Louis Berger, Boris Kaufman, and Jean-Paul Alphen, 34)
Absolutely mesmerizing in its invention and bravery, from director Jean Vigo, who left us way too early.  

Laura (Joseph La Shelle, 44)
A key noir in every way, and one of the most perverse!

Lawrence of Arabia (Freddie Young, 62)
Epic widescreen photography at its highest apex--huge in scope, yet also incredibly intimate and personal. Can you IMAGINE the human effort that went into making this movie, and in the middle of the desert, too? 

Leave Her to Heaven (Leon Shamroy, 45)
Stunning use of evocative shadows and rich colors in this odd noir from director John Stahl.  

The Leopard (Giuseppe Rotunno, 63)  
Another stunningly intimate and visually detailed epic, with a recognizably Italian ambiance!  
 
Lenny (Bruce Surtees, 74)
Rich black-and-white, from a photographer with a penchant for utter darkness.  

Life with Father (J. Peverell Marley and William V. Skall, 47)  
Stunning Technicolor work that's often forgotten!  All the red hair in this movie just pops!   

Life of Pi (Claudio Miranda, 2012) 
Digital and real world photography continue their first genuine meeting. 
 
A Little Princess (Emmanuel Lubezki, 95) 
Gorgeous work, both in the real and the extra unreal fantasy sequences, and the near beginning of the photographer's association with one of his most valued collaborators, director Alfonso Cuaron. 

Local Hero (Chris Menges, 83) 
The haunting Scottish beaches, and the impersonal Texas highrises clash wonderfully in this, perhaps one of the most terrifically shot comedies of all time.  
 
Lola Montes (Christian Matras, 55)  
A film in which each shot is just unspeakably tremendous.  A must for cinematography afficiandos.  

The Long Goodbye (Vilmos Zsigmond, 74)
Los Angeles has never looked more seedy and unusual than in this Altman-directed noir, with his trademarked constantly-in-motion camerawork.  
 
The Long Riders (Ric Waite, 80)
Only one non-Peckinpah film has done things so right, Peckinpah would be proud, and this is in large part due to the athletic cinematography (and editing).  
 
Looking for Mr. Goodbar (William A. Fraker, 77)
The 70s bar scene, shockingly real and scary.  The strobe light sequence at the climax might very well make you ill!   

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings (Andrew Lesnie, 2001) 
The template for one of the most respecting movie series of all time.  Its understanding and completion of Middle Earth's look is beyond reproach.

The Lost Weekend (John F. Seitz, 45) 
Alcoholism at its despairing rock bottom, shot with disquieting contrasts.  

The Lover (Robert Fraisse, 92) 
Heated and sweaty eroticism.  

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Encyclopedia of Cinematography (I-J)

Just as a reminder: in the spirit and thrust of this series, the names beside the titles are of the PHOTOGRAPHER of the film, and not of the director.  
 
I Am Cuba (Sergei Urusevsky, 64)
A silvery, sumptuous look into the secretive world of 60s Cuba, with a series of impossible shots that need to be seen to be believed.  An incredibly influential movie...even this scene was aped in Boogie Nights...and we're not even taking into account this shot's previous trip up the length of a Havana high-rise! And we're not EVEN talking about the camera floating above a cigar factory, and then hovering over a massive funeral!  And this doesn't even cover a 20th of it!!

The Ice Storm (Frederick Elmes, 96)  
A chilly look at 70s sexual decadence, and its effects on a set of familes.  In its expressive darkness, Elmes' work approaches here the greatness of his dealings with David Lynch.

if… (Miroslav Ondricek, 68)
Switching in random order with black-and-white and color (for location and budgetary reasons alone), Ondricek and director Lindsay Anderson make it all seem like a sickening, exciting vision made from well-considered scratch. 

Ikiru (Asaichi Nakai, 52) 
One downtrodden man's reach for something greater, filmed with utmost care. 

"I Know Where I'm Going!" (Irwin Hiller, 44)   
So many stupendous images!  It's jut something you're gonna hafta see on your own!  Don't take my word on it. Check out Powell and Pressberger's masterpiece, and get educated.  It took me a while to get around to it!
 
The Illusionist (Dick Pope, 2006) 
Utterly beautiful, and with a wild color pallette!

Images (Vilmos Zsigmond, 72)  
Horror, and a mental breakdown, told with an almost continually colossal array of images, both in close-up and in ridiculously large long shots.  

Imitation of Life (Russell Metty, 59) 
Delicious '50s Technicolor, by a couple of masters (the second being the famed Douglas Sirk). 

In A Lonely Place (Burnett Guffey, 50) 
Madness, horrifically lit.   

In Cold Blood (Conrad Hall, 67)
Every shot in Richard Brooks' movie pops HARD, and this is because of Hall's total commitment to the tale.  This particular scene here. with the raindrops on the window mirroring the teardrops on Perry's face, influenced movies for decades hence--but no one ever did it better...
 
Inherit the Wind (Ernest Laszlo, 60)  
With his inventive B&W, lens choices, and camera placements, Laszlo continues his collaboration with director Stanley Kramer, and in doing so, continues his position as that director's greatest asset.

In The Mood for Love (Christopher Doyle, Pung-Leung Kwan and Ping Bin Lee, 2000)
Absolutely indespensable.  Every shot is total mastery, in movement and coloring.  The lighting here is just extraordinary!  

In The Realm of the Senses (Hideo Ito, 76) 
Sex has never been filmed better.  Not in a narrative movie, at least...

Inception (Wally Pfister, 2010) 
A dream world explodes, unforgettably. 

Inglourious Basterds (Richard Richardson, 2009)
An impossible history, filmed without match as classic pulp.

The Innocents (Freddie Francis, 61) 
Judging on cinematography alone, the greatest horror film ever made. Shot in wide-screen and in black-and-white, and totally essential for both genre fans and non-...

The Insider (Dante Spinotti, 99)
Many of its shots highlight the lead's loneliness and isolation.  A prime example of storytelling and characterization through cinematography.  

Interiors (Gordon Willis, 78)
Willis turns his dark eye to a more European stance.  He keeps his personality, but does so in an adventurous way.  The bland beiges often erupt with bright reds, overexposed whites, and deadly greys.  

Irreversible (Benoit Debie, 2002) 
Almost unwatchable, but in a way that's difficult to turn away from...

It Happened Here (Kevin Brownlow and Peter Suschitzky, 65)
Documentary-like filmmaking that makes you think this is some sort of historical drama that REALLY occurred.  Even looking at it today, it's difficult to believe that it wasn't filmed in the post-war '40s.  

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (Ernest Laszlo, 63)
The famous widescreen process called Cinerama at perhaps its most intrepid.  Definitely a movie that divides viewers, but it's difficult to fault Laszlo's athletic cinematography.

I Walked With a Zombie (J. Roy Hunt, 43) 
Perhaps Val Lewton's most memorably shot horror production...though so many of them are great, I can see where this debate might get heated.

Ivan the Terrible, Part I: Ivan Grozyni (Andre Moskvin and Eduard Tisse, 44) 
A czar at his most insane and powerful, with horror movie lighting accentuating his most terrifying aspects. 
 
Ivan the Terrible, Part II: The Boyars' Plot (Andre Moskvin and Eduard Tisse, 58) 
The terror continues, with brief glimpses of this monster in full color.

Ivan's Childhood (Vadim Yusov, 62) 
Completely beautiful with every single shot...

I Vitelloni (Otello Martelli, 52) 
The bridge between Rossellini-inspired realism and Fellini-inspired dreaminess.
 
Jaws (Bill Butler, 75) 
Anyone who can make this on-set disaster look as convincing as this, with its underwater photography, its often questionable special effects and such, deserves some big-time credit.  So many shots here are historically valuable!  
 
Jean De Florette  (Bruno Nuytten, 86) 
With this and the sequel Manon of the Spring, Nuytten and director Claude Berri build a world perfectly colored and framed. 

JFK (Robert Richardson, 91)
With all the formats--8mm, 16mm, 35 mm, black-and-white and color--there is nothing out there (outside of Stone's superior Natural Born Killers) like this. 

Jigoku (Mamoru Morita, 60) 
Hell, in all its ridiculous horror.  

Joan of Arc (Joseph Valentine, William V. Skall, and Winton Hoch, 48) 
Heroism, beautifully captured.  

Johnny Guitar (Harry Stradling, 54)  
Insane coloring, for an equally insane narrative.  

Judgment at Nuremberg (Ernest Laszlo, 61)
With its often documentary feel (and it's a groundbreaker in this realm), Laszlo's camera performs some amazing feats, including an immutable zooming jump from German to English language. 
 
Jules and Jim (Raoul Coutard, 62) 
A menage a trois most excitingly portrayed. 
 
Juliet of the Spirits (Gianni Di Venanzo, 65) 
Federico Fellini's tremendously loving tribute to his muse, Giulietta Masina.