Wednesday, March 30, 2016

So you think you're dead?

This post is part of Nathaniel's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" series in which the participants must post a single image from a movie he or she deems as the "best shot" for any particular reason.

Late posting this, but I couldn't pass up a chance to watch the supremely weird sci-fi fantasy film Zardoz starring Sean Connery in a red diaper. It's a fine pick so close to April Fool's Day because the joke is on the viewer as they're immediately greeted by a giant stone head floating in the sky not knowing that the movie will just get more surreal and confusing from that point.

The thing is, as oddball as the film is, it is visually rich with its lush environment, garish costumes, and trippy visual/light effects. I had a few options for my best shot and I certainly could've picked a lot of off-the-wall or flashy scenes, but I decided to pick something relatively subdued in comparison.

Best Shot

Connery's character Zed has just landed in "The Vortex" and is finally greeted by one of the Eternals who knocks him out telepathically. When he comes to, they confer by the side of the lake, her in her usual Eternal garb channeling the hippie movement and him in his usual Brutal Exterminator costume which I likened to a red diaper earlier. And if I'm being honest, as beautifully composed as this shot is, Connery's ridiculous costume is probably the main reason I picked it as my best shot. Because how in Oz did they ever convince Connery to wear this for almost the entire film? It's as confounding as the existence of the film itself.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Devil of Hell's Kitchen

This post is part of Nathaniel's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" series in which the participants must post a single image from a movie (or TV show in this particular case) he or she deems as the "best shot" for any particular reason.

Instead of a movie this week, we were asked to pick a favorite shot or shots from the recently released sophomore season of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix. I probably would've opted for Sense8 or Marvel's other show Jessica Jones, but I guess timing made this the more obvious choice. I ended up seeing just the first 3 episodes the past few days and I picked one shot from each episode which ended up working together quite well.

Ep. 1 "Bang"

Ep. 2 "Dogs to a Gunfight"

Ep. 3 "New York's Finest"

The shot from the second episode, "Dogs to a Gunfight," was actually my first pick, because how could I not pick a shot giving us a full display of the glory of Charlie Cox's bloodied superhero bod? But in conjunction with my other two picks, it takes on a more symbolic meaning. See how similar this shot is with a close-up of a bloodied Jesus on a cross from the opening sequence of the third episode, "New York's Finest," itself an intriguing shot from the show reminding us yet again that Catholicism runs through the veins of our main character. It also gives us the not-so-subtle message that Matt Murdock may be the Devil of Hell's Kitchen, but he's also channeling Christ in both the need to save people and to do so by suffering. And so like the neon red cross in the first episode, "Bang," shine light on the dark city below, so does this self-appointed savior/hero/avenger in its midst.

All of this makes me intrigued by the episodes ahead as the show hopefully delves deeper into the different brands of vigilante justice put forth by Daredevil and his seemingly new nemesis the Punisher. Are they really all that different?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The story can resume...

This post is part of Nathaniel's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" series in which the participants must post a single image from a movie he or she deems as the "best shot" for any particular reason.

Atonement is a cinematic masterpiece and I'm not just saying that because it's one of my favorite films of all time. Joe Wright is an exciting and innovative director whose talents were in peak form on this film with a great assist from the visionary work of cinematographer Seamus McGarvey. Both were able to craft such a lush vision of the film whose performances, screenplay, and other aspects were also top-notch. I can literally go on and on about how much I love everything about this film.

But the mission for the day is to pick my best shot and in a film I adore full of gorgeous shots, it's a task I took quite seriously. The first "shot" that came to mind is the wonderful Dunkirk tracking sequence which I previously talked about as being one of my favorite film scenes ever. Its bravura technical work for cast and crew and would be a no-brainer pick for anyone.

And then I thought about the wonderful and, in retrospect, heartbreaking reunion of Cecilia and Robbie at the cafe after being separated for years. This move was an acting showcase, especially for Keira Knightley and James McAvoy, and it was in full display here as they both are practically choking over various emotions of love, lust, pain, longing and regret.

In the end, I chose the emotional climax of that earlier Dunkirk sequence as Robbie's emotions finally get the best of him.

Best Shot

He's beyond exhausted and seeing this display of love on screen haunts him as the memories of his all-too-brief love affair with Cecilia haunts him daily. The shot itself is just so evocative especially the way the film screen dwarfs this hunched and defeated figure. Earlier today, I actually posted a series of shots from the film showing McAvoy's Robbie framed by doors throughout the film thinking that maybe it was meant to symbolize how confined he is to his tragic situation. And while this shot is not of Robbie framed by a door, he certainly looks just as trapped.

James McAvoy Framed

I will be writing up a post later tonight on my pick for "Best Shot" in the movie Atonement, which is more difficult than it seems because not only is it one of my favorite films ever, but because nearly every shot in the film would be worthy of a write-up.

So in an effort to highlight as much beauty from the film as I can, I thought I'd post these shots from the film of James McAvoy's character Robbie Turner framed by door frames. Enjoy...

I wonder if someone has asked director Joe Wright and cinematographer Seamus McGarvey why they chose to shoot this character through doors a few times, but the only thing I can think of is that Robbie is confined in his life just as he's confined by these doors. That or the punny (certainly not funny) explanation that Robbie was framed for rape and thus... So, any other ideas?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

I am the gatekeeper...

This post is part of Nathaniel's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" series in which the participants must post a single image from a movie he or she deems as the "best shot" for any particular reason.

With the new Ghostbusters just around the corner, it's worth to take a quick re-visit of the original 1984 film starring Bill Murray, Dan Ankroyd, and Sigourney Weaver. It's a film that I like more than love and certainly its originality and ambitions are commendable. Its cultural ubiquity and impact as well are undeniable and yet the film itself suffers a bit by taking a long while to really get going, holding back on its best part, Sigourney Weaver. For me, the movie doesn't really get interesting, narratively and visually, until midway when Weaver's character gets possessed by the spirit of Zuul.

Weaver is an absolute delight in these sequences with her sparkly orange dress, wild makeup and put upon sultry voice. She's clearly having a blast from the moment Murray opens the door and she asks if he's the keymaster. It's a grand entrance that signals a key shift in the film leading up to the requisite rescue and confrontation climax. Her reveal, however, isn't my pick for favorite shot. It's this one...

Best Shot

Framed by the destruction of her apartment and the grandeur of New York City, Weaver is shamelessly splayed in all her carnal glory. It's possibly the most arresting image in the film embracing both the scary and the absurd aspects of the film. Honestly, it's the image I most associate with the film other than the adorable and giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. "I am the gatekeeper" she declares and goddamn if we all didn't want to be the keymaster at the time. Hail Zuul!