Sunday, 15 September 2013
Friday, 2 August 2013
John Lithgow's performance is suitably deranged, Kevin Pollack provides solid support (nice impression in the early stages). It's a good story, not without a Hitchcockian twist or two, arguably not particularly polished as a final product, but still a barrel load of kitschy '80's fun (even though it was released in 1991). Well worth a look, especially for Denzel Washington fans who might have missed it.
Saturday, 27 July 2013
Friday, 26 July 2013
Friday, 5 July 2013
A particularly nice touch is the interweaving of flashbacks to the back story of Pitt’s ‘Billy Beane’ through the events of the first act. Brad evokes strong memories of Robert Redford in ‘The Natural’, not just in his physical appearance (increasingly craggy) but in his unhurried delivery and deceptively casual style.
The best elements of 'Moneyball' are the conflicts, especially the head butting between Brad Pitt and the Oakland A’s staff (notably Philip Seymour Hoffman), which is crackling – but without the histrionics of say ‘Any Given Sunday’ (although that has its place). Notably, Jonah Hill puts in a nicely judged performance, good to see him in a serious roll, fitting comfortably in the room with Pitt and Hoffman.
At the bottom of the ninth, 'Moneyball' is everything that 'Jerry Maguire' is not. The characters are engaging and the dead pan humour is glorious. Highly recommended.
Friday, 28 June 2013
Saturday, 22 June 2013
Rather than trying to create something new, such as when using 'Shift', here I was trying to capture the tone of the light falling from the skylight in an artist's studio in Cornwall. My Sony DSC-P72 produced this image at an equivalent F-stop of f/5.6 with an ISO-100 setting, a 1/400s exposure and +0.7 exp bias so as not to lose the interior to shadow.
The studio in question is in St. Ives (clue for those who have visited that charming town), and belonged to a sculptor, namely Barbara Hepworth. My daughter, at age 11 in 2006 when this picture was taken, had discovered an enthusiasm for sculpture, so Hepworth's studio (where she died in a fire in 1975), was a must-see. There is an excellent collection of Hepworth's work in the garden there, in what is now the Barbara Hepworth Museum.
I find this image inspiring, perhaps a latent memory of the inspiration that I felt at the time in seeing my daughter's enthusiastic reaction to the place and the sculpture. Something in the tone of the light, which is subdued, seems to me to offer a backdrop for creativity, for ideas. I made sure that the composition included the mirror, which shows a reflection of sculpting items on other surfaces in the room, but particularly the calendar on the wall, which displays 20th May, the day that Hepworth died.
This picture was taken in the entranceway of the apartment where we stayed in Rome in July 2007. I've mumped on in previous posts about the line between pointing the camera and pushing the button, and creating something that might be described as art. 18 months between that post and this one, and I'm coming from the other direction here in accepting that the line in question is blurred at best.
Clearly, there are elements such as composition, framing and exposure that are fundamental to the result, and good judgement in making choices for these elements can be considered as skill in photography. These decisions lead to an image being pleasing to the viewer or not, but are they enough on their own or in combination to result in art being created, or does there need to be an element of the unexpected and unusual, the novel and original, that goes further?
That, of course, is a big question, and well beyond me to answer for anyone else. Suffice to say that I thought I had answered it from my perspective in my last photography post but, in looking back through my photographs to put more images up on the blog, I think I need to consider that question further.
Here, for example, is another picture taken using my Sony DSC-P72, ISO 100, f/2.8. The exposure is 1/2 second (no bias), long enough to get some light from the rendered ceiling of the spiral stairway and to over-expose the glass roof of the stairwell and create an intense brightness there. The artificial lighting gives the white render a soft orange tone that I liked, and I think there is a pleasing convergence in the lines of the railings that draws the viewer into the bright light above.
A superlative film from J.J. Abrams, clearly channelling the work of producer the fabulous Mr. Spielberg, Super 8 takes the joyfully freewheeling sensibility of ET and brings a darker more adult tone to a story that borrows several themes from Earth-bound Science Fiction, but Abrams takes these and makes them his own. Hinging the story around the youngsters shooting a movie is a clever and affecting touch, evoking memories of childhood dreams in the audience, and the young stars have a great chemistry that makes the whole premise engrossing. But it would not work so well if the adult performances did not anchor events in the 'real' world of grown-up cares and concerns, and good turns from Kyle Chandler and Ron Elard do just that, especially in the opening scenes where the film's emotional level is established. The youngsters are not upstaged however and the leading lights of the cast-within-a-cast, Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning and Riley Griffiths are entirely believable, but it is Fanning who steals the show in the key train wreck scene, which is fraught with tension and excitement even before the train arrives and, like a certain scene in David Lynch’s 'Mulholland Drive' featuring Naomi Watts, is a highly effective illustration of what proper acting looks like. Super 8 is essential viewing for fans of Abrams, Spielberg or just plain wonderful movies.
Ignore the sniping campaign that beset John Carter from before it was even released and watch this movie through the lens of some important facts. Edgar Rice Burroughs' first story was serialised in 1912, and he invented much of the language of modern SF stories, arguably doing more than anyone to create the Space Opera form that long after spawned Star Trek, Star Wars and all that followed them. To say that we have seen before most of what Andrew Stanton puts on screen is a narrow view, and to say that it is confusing implies a conscious unwillingness to put some thought into following the story (that's you, Dr. Kermode). It's sad to think that we will probably not see any of the other books now, all because of the deliberately constructed scuttlebutt designed to sabotage the film. Mark Strong and James Purefoy have both alluded to this in interview and how completely disproportionate that opprobrium was. Those of us who are fans can only hope that John Carter becomes the long term success that it deserves to be, it's a cracking adventure movie, Lynn Collins is every inch the feisty Martian princess and definitely could take Princess Leia in a fight (no blasters allowed). The cast is filled out with a mighty throng of British thesps, including the aforementioned plus Samantha Morton, Ciaran Hinds and Dominic West, and the mighty Bryan Cranston and Thomas Haden Church are also present. But what about Taylor Kitsch? Well he does just fine, the role is not taxing and he's got the muscles for it, I mean come on, it's space opera, not Aida.