Archive for September, 2008

Elephant

September 19, 2008

Elephant has to be one of the slowest paced movies I’ve ever watched. There is little dialogue and much of the film is just following of the characters. It is somewhat random to a first viewer and hard to understand. In the midst of all this though, elephant presents a rather realistic story of a gun shooting in an American high school and what brings these sort of people to do so.

A lot of the camera time is focused on the characters, leaving everything but the main character in the shot out of focus or blurry. The composition is fairly good but in the sense of the rule of thirds most of the time the character is in the middle of the shot but usually eyes or other parts lie on the four points.

The light and colour in the film seems to be grainier or dull adding to the theme of the movie. Bright lighting and colours would probably not work with this film. At the school when they are shooting in the hall ways and corridors you get that nice beaming white light at the end of the hallway as the actor is walking to it and the light drifts down towards the actor giving a nice artistic shot. You can see though that they have basically used what lighting that was already available using natural light etc. It does not seem to have much artificial light.

The soundtrack of the money of what little there is adds to the feel and emotional side of the film with that soft drum and flute (it’s that eerie sound) when they walk through the corridors. Also when the main shooter is at home he plays the piano and this music describes the way he feels about the people and world around him suggesting sadness, sorrow and anger.

On top of this, a lot of the dialogue and background noise included in the movie not only comes from what you see on screen but off-screen as well. Most of the time, you can hear other conversations, outdoor noises, machinery in the kitchen and a variety of other types of sounds. For this to happen they would probably using boom microphones for main dialogue and then adding extra sounds recorded off screen to the finished movie. The Foley work in the film as well is quite good because they help to push the movie along with sounds of objects and actors walking through hallways.

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Kill Bill Vol.2

September 18, 2008

Some people would suggest that Kill Bill vol.2 is not as good as vol.1, and in this case I would probably have to agree. However, vol.2 still carries a lot of great themes, ideas and most importantly, great cinematography. Like all of Quentin Tarantino film, the scene lines, sets and cinematography are very artistic, lifelike and easy to watch. They carry such a smooth transition between each shot. Although, most of his films follow the composition rules (or rule of thirds), some of his shots reject this rule and most of the time Tarantino pulls it off.

The scene where Bill and Kiddo are sitting talking at the fire presents a front on shot with Kiddo on the left and Bill on the right on either sides of the fire. Usually, this 180 degree talking shot would not carry two people talking face on in the one shot Tarantino breaks up the shot with the crackling fire in the middle of the screen. Also Bill is sitting at a slightly higher angle than Kiddo (suggesting superiority) with a sloping mountain pass in the background. It creates somewhat an artistic feel to the shot that in theory shouldn’t be acceptable.

When Kiddo goes to see the master up in the temple, the first seen where she sees him, he is sitting in the centre of the shot covering barely just the centre of the shot. However, the shot includes, perfect horizontal lines where the master is sitting (stairs) which balances the shot horizontally and for the vertical there is a statue that is sitting to the left hand side of the screen yet again making perfect balance creating an artistic feel.

My favourite shot of many in the movie is the shot sequence when Kiddo is returning through the desert. The shot begins with the sun flare centre screen and fading into another shot with Kiddo emerging where the flare was position. You see her walk towards the middle of the shot with heat waves beaming off the desert sand. She’s the only one in focus. She is dirty, wearing no shoes, but as the camera slowly closes in and she gets to the top of the mountain the camera acts as her eyes panning from here left to right focusing on the car pulling into the caravan. The camera then switches sides and a close up of her dirty yet determined face floods the shot and zooms right into to her eyes. It gives you a sense that revenge is just around the corner.