Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2014

Watch: A MYTH IN MOVEMENTS, a four-part visual essay

"A visual essay on culture, history and the act of physical filmmaking used to recreate memories, myths and images."

A Myth In Movements is a deeply personal film for me. It's about a lot of things. It's about riding the train in Chicago, which is how I get around. It's about the stasis of celluloid film. It's about the endurance of day-to-day life. It's about the horror of war. It's about dealing with a lost love. It's aboutthe power of the image, when coupled with memories, ideas or thoughts. We create our own myths in this life. Here's a window into some of mine.


The Motion Picture Superimposed

Julien Donkey-Boy (1999) 
In its earliest days, the superimposed image was used mainly as a special effect, most notably in Victor Sjöström's 1921 film The Phantom Carriage, where it created the illusion of ghosts in the afterlife. These days, the superimposed image is almost everywhere, from an editing dissolve that suggests a continuation in mood (e.g. the transition from a saddened Don Corleone in bed to his home country of Italy where his son Michael has sought refuge in The Godfather) to a literal visualization of a character's inner psychology (e.g. the face of death on Norman Bates in Psycho). For me, I find the superimposed image to be one of the most powerful visual strategies for conveying an idea or a feeling. In fact, last year I created a video essay on the works of Wong Kar-Wai that heavily relied on the use of superimposition to demonstrate the filmmaker's trademark visual fervor. Below, I've curated some standout superimposed images from over the years,…

Far From Heaven: Studying The Headroom In Pawel Pawlikowski's "Ida"

Pawel Pawlikowski's Ida tells the quietly haunting story of a young nun named Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska) who sets out to find her family origins in 1960s Poland. At the beginning of the film, the once-orphaned Anna learns that she still has one living relative: her aunt Wanda Gruz (Agata Kulesza), a revered court judge in the city. As Anna sets out on her journey of self-discovery, Pawlikowski, and cinematographers Ryszard Lenczewski and Lukasz Zal, announce their visual strategy for conveying their protagonist's hopeless and essentially powerless role in the world: by dwarfing the screen figure of Anna with a maximum amount of screen headroom.

Look at how the following shot makes Anna look insignificant against the towering institution of the convent.


In the city, Anna meets her aunt Wanda and there Anna learns that her real name is Ida Lebenstein. After Wanda tells Ida of her parents' horrific death during WWII, the pair set off to find out what exactly happened and perh…

Not Shot For Shot: Soderbergh's "Psychos" vs. Olenick's "Psycho 2000"

Steven Soderbergh, the Oscar-winning Director (Traffic) and recently-retired-from-theatrically-released-studio-filmsvisual artist, has just released his Psychos, a mashup and appropriated retelling of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) which uses a desaturated version of Gus Van Sant's Psycho from 1998 and intercuts between the two films. Currently streaming on his Extension 765 website, Soderbergh claims to have created Psychos with "total affection, openness, and honey bought directly from a beekeeper.”

Psychos runs at a feature length time and cleverly jumps from the modern version clips to the older version clips, in chronological narrative order. The best aspect of Psychos is how Soderbergh handles the climatic moments: He superimposes both the black & white Hitchcock images over the colorized Van Sant images. The effect is hypnotic. And its power comes in our built-in knowledge that Van Sant's version is a supposed "shot for shot" remake of Hitchcock&…