Tuesday, August 30, 2016

She works hard for the money...

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.

Splash is a romantic comedy from the 80s about a guy meeting a mermaid and both falling in love. You could even say it's a tail as old as time. Directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah as the two leads, the film was one of the biggest hits of its year. The film is a bit all over the place, but the fun twist to the boy-meets-girl concept and the charming chemistry between the leads elevate it for me.

Seeing young Hanks in the film is a treat, fresh-faced and so physically expressive. Hannah, meanwhile, is captivating in spite of not being able to speak for the first third of the film and then for being kept in a tank for the last third. There's just such a joy that emanates from her for most of the film quickly endearing her character to the audience. This also makes her character's darker and deeper moments in the film that much more affecting such as her tearful/fearful avoidance of the rain in the tunnel (photo below) and her helplessness inside the tank.

But going back to happier moments, one of my favorite sequences in the film is Hannah going to Bloomingdale's (incidentally her first word) to shop for the first time. She is of course delighted by all the clothes and she is just thrilled by television. In fact, she actually learns English during her 6-hour stay, the tail-end of which we see with her gleefully dancing to a Richard Simmons workout show. It has my favorite shot from the film...

Best Shot

If I knew how to gif her dancing, that probably would be more indicative of my actual favorite shot especially since seeing her dress and hair gracefully moving to the music is a key element. But the shot above captures the motion of both indicating the fun and energy of the scene. Her teal blue dress against the salmon-tint of the screens (not to mention Simmons' bright blue workout gear and her primary-colored shopping boxes) make for a vibrant tableau that's pleasingly eye-catching. Another reason I like this scene is because it simultaneously shows her as a fish-out-of-water while also being superbly adaptable.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Boom, then crash...

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.

The Get Down, the latest from Baz Luhrmann, is a new (and very expensive) Netflix show about the birth of hip hop set in the Bronx of the late 1970s. I admit that I was surprised when I heard Luhrmann was working on this, but upon further thought, the time period and topic lend themselves well to Luhrmann's highly stylized and frenetic direction.

The pilot, the only one actually directed by Luhrmann, is chock full of Luhrmann's visual panache and manic style, but the latter at times felt a bit too much especially in the first half of the extra long 90-minute episode where viewers are still trying to get a sense of the world and its characters. The tone is all over the place and the hyper editing threatened to make everything practically incoherent. Thankfully the performances held up and I'm intrigued enough to further follow the stories of Ezekiel, Shaolin, and their ragtag group of friends.

As for my best shot, I chose something that came from one of my favorite sequences in the pilot. This was one of the few times Luhrmann and company slowed it down a bit, giving us a better sense of the main character and just letting the power of words do most of the work.

Best Shot

Here Ezekiel is challenged by his teacher to recite a very personal poem he wrote talking about his dead parents. It's an evocative moment that appropriately starts off visually evocative as well with the camera panning to the left obscuring Ezekiel at the same time he's finally opening himself up. I love this particular shot as well because it highlights an Ezekiel who is literally split down the middle just as his journey seems to be. On the one hand there's his pursuit of his crush Mylene and on the other is his unlikely partnership with Shaolin. It'll be interesting to see how exactly the show handles this moving forward.